Largest rooftop solar array to land at Auckland Airport
Auckland Airport is looking skywards as it takes its first steps to generate onsite renewable energy, with plans for rooftop solar systems atop two of its newest buildings.
Premium outlet centre Mānawa Bay, being built to the north-east of the airport precinct, will support what’s expected to be the largest rooftop solar system in New Zealand on top of the 35,000m2 building. At 2.3-megawatts, the solar array will generate the equivalent of 80 per cent of the 100-store centre’s power usage when it opens in 2024.
Also under construction is the $300 million-plus Transport Hub opposite the international terminal that will support a solar array of 1.2 megawatts on its 14,000m2 roof. That’s enough to power the attached office building and electric vehicle charging stations within its car park.
“Using solar as a renewable energy source is a key step towards meeting our target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.”
“Solar energy makes sense at the airport for many reasons. Large, flat roof structures and sunlight are things we have in abundance, so rooftop solar systems can provide a resilient supply of renewable energy as the airport grows. We also recognise new development generates an increase in carbon and we are actively taking steps to minimise this.”
Solar power production capacity from Mānawa Bay and the Transport Hub is expected to generate enough energy to power 634 houses per year and avoid approximately 588 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year – equivalent to a Toyota Corolla driving the length of New Zealand 1,865 times.
“We are committed to a 90 per cent reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions* from a 2019 baseline, with the remaining circa 10% to be addressed through the purchase of certified carbon removals until technology development offers other alternatives. With the airport’s energy demands expected to grow significantly over the next decade, we are looking for opportunities to meet future energy needs with a mixture of on-site and off-site renewable energy sources.”
Re-energising Auckland Airport
Auckland Airport’s current annual power usage is equivalent to 5,000 homes (or a town about the size of Wanaka).
But power use in about 10 years’ time is estimated to be equivalent to 16,000 households (or a town about the size of Whanganui), driven by the forecast growth in passenger numbers and terminal development.
“We are committed to growing Auckland Airport in a way that’s sustainable environmentally, economically and socially and solar power production is a new chapter in this story,” Ms Hurihanganui says.
Plans are already underway to ensure future terminal developments are solar-capable. This includes the combined domestic and international jet terminal. A key consideration for any rooftop solar array in an airport environment is that it does not create glare or reflection on the flight path for pilots or the control tower.
Auckland Airport is working closely with its airline partners to understand their future requirements for the electrification of aircraft.
“As aviation decarbonises we will see greater demand for clean energy. The steps we are taking now will ensure we are well-placed for the future.”
Making the electric vehicle transition easier
Auckland Airport is helping to make electric vehicles a viable and environmentally-friendly option for its customers. When it opens in late 2024, the Transport Hub will dedicate spaces throughout the carpark for electric vehicle charging stations, with expected EV charging usage to come from those parking for short periods and commercial operators who will occupy dedicated zones.
The Transport Hub is targeting a US-accredited Gold Parksmart rating, which measures the use of innovative sustainable practices in parking facilities.
When it opens, Mānawa Bay will provide electric vehicle charging stations, with the final numbers yet to be determined.
New aspirations for sustainability at Auckland Airport
- Auckland Airport has disclosed a decarbonisation pathway to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. This pathway targets a 90 per cent reduction in scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions from a 2019 baseline, and is aligned with 1.5oC
- Scope 1 refers to direct GHG emissions produced as a result of the airport’s operations and are owned or controlled by the airport, e.g. petrol and diesel and natural gas.
- Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions associated with the generation of electricity that the airport buys from the grid.