Pittsburgh International Airport will consider doubling the number of solar panels that help make up its microgrid.

It’s been one year since the airport went live with its microgrid, which is currently powered by more than 9,000 solar panels and five natural gas generators.

The 23 MW project features five 4 MW Jenbacher natural gas engines and gensets, joined by the thousands of solar panels installed on eight acres of a former landfill. IMG Energy Solutions owns the solar array.

The power generated at PIT is the primary supply for the entire airport, including the terminals, airfield, Hyatt hotel and Sunoco. In microgrid fashion, the airport can operate independently of the grid, but remains connected in case of emergency or backup power.

The airport says there have been environmental benefits since the microgrid went online. Carbon dioxide emissions have been cut by about 8.2 million pounds per year, according to Tom Woodrow, PIT’s SVP Engineering and Infrastructure Intelligence.

 “We’ve lowered our energy costs, we’ve lowered our carbon output and we have guaranteed ourselves resiliency and redundancy. That’s really important to an airport,” said CEO Christina Cassotis.

The Allegheny County Airport Authority Board of Directors in 2019 awarded Peoples Natural Gas a 20-year contract to build, maintain and operate the microgrid at no cost to the airport.

Crews started construction in July 2020 and completed the project on schedule even as the pandemic stalled the aviation industry last year.

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