A microgrid project pairing natural gas with solar power is taking shape at Pittsburgh International Airport, with the installation expected to be the primary source of electricity for the property by the summer of 2021.
Construction of the microgrid began a few weeks ago with site preparation work, which included rerouting an electrical line and removing old pavement. Crews on July 20 moved a large drill rig (Figure 2) into place to start work on the foundation. The project is considered a key component of the airport’s Terminal Modernization Program, which includes work to make the facility safer, and to enhance power reliability and resilience.
“This project is about improving public safety through resiliency and redundancy in electrical power,” Tom Woodrow, vice president of engineering for Pittsburgh International Airport, told POWER. “The project was initiated in mid-2017 and as the concept unfolded in the wake of some major power outages at other airports, we moved full steam ahead in early 2018 to develop a microgrid.”
Woodrow said the project is moving forward despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has delayed some energy infrastructure projects in the U.S. and around the world. “Overall the pandemic has not slowed our progress and we broke ground this week,” he told POWER.
The microgrid will include five gas-fired generators, with 20 MW of generation capacity, and about 7,800 solar panels, with a total 3 MW of generation capacity, covering eight acres.