Pittsburgh airport celebrates start of solar & gas-powered microgrid

Jennbacher engines
Gen-sets at Pittsburgh International Airport microgrid

Like any good transportation hub, The Pittsburgh International Airport prides itself as on-time coming or going. They also can add on-site power to that distinction.

The airport celebrated the beginning of operations for its unique new microgrid powered there by natural gas and solar resources. The microgrid will generate power, in part, through onsite natural gas wells and 9,360 solar panels across eight acres.

The power generated at PIT is the primary supply for the entire airport, including the terminals, airfield, Hyatt hotel and Sunoco. The airport will remain connected to the traditional electrical grid as an option for emergency or backup power if needed. The microgrid will generate power, in part, through onsite natural gas wells and 9,360 solar panels across eight acres.

Read more about microgrid projects in Power Engineering!

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 “Pittsburgh International Airport is now one of the most site-hardened public facilities in the world while at the same time becoming more sustainable. That’s a tribute to the innovative culture of our team, and we hope this project can be a model across the industry,” said Pittsburgh International Airport 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.

 “Essential Utilities and Peoples Gas are proud to be an integral part of the airport microgrid project,” said Christopher Franklin, chairman and chief executive officer, Essential Utilities. “We’re demonstrating how new, alternative energies like solar can be integrated with traditional power sources like natural gas. This energy solution provides the airport with a more resilient power supply, as well as reducing its emissions.”

 The 23-MW project will feature 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.

In addition to IMG, other firms involved in the development of the microgrid included CNX Resources, EIS Solar, PJ Dick, LLI Engineering and Duquesne Light Company.

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