A new 4MW PV solar array is now online at Darwin International Airport, which will generate a quarter of the airport’s energy requirements.

The completion of the solar farm was the first stage of the airport’s solar project, with stage 2 adding a further 1.5MW.

Upon completion, the total value of the project will be $13 million, with Stage 1 being the largest airside photovoltaic (PV) solar array in the world.

Darwin International Airport’s new solar farm is powered by a 4MW PV array at the eastern end of the main runway.

Construction of Stage 1, which began December 2015, comprises 15,000 solar panels over six hectares and will produce electricity equivalent to the consumption of 1,000 households.

The system is forecast to meet up to 100 per cent of the airport’s peak energy demand in the middle of the day and to generate 25 per cent of the airport’s overall energy needs.

The $13 million solar farm is entirely financed by private sector investment and is expected to reduce the airport’s power bills by $1.5 million each year based on current peak tariff rates.

This makes the project the largest 100 per cent private sector investment in a solar PV installation in Australia.

The solar farm will be Australia’s most northern multi-MW PV array system and the largest ‘behind the meter’ PV system designed and built for a single building or facility in Australia.

A behind the meter system is a renewable energy generating facility that produces power intended for use on site – the location of the solar PV system is on airport land rather than on the side of the electric grid.

The banks of arrays will support Q Cell PV panels, which are suitable to withstand cyclonic conditions.

The solar farm is on six hectares of airport land not needed for aviation activities and has an expected life span of 25 years. Work on the project included earthworks, stormwater drains, access roads and solar modules.

Darwin Solar 1.5MW Stage 2 is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.

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