Melbourne Airport has announced it will finish construction of its enormous solar farm next month, ready for it to be switched on in January.
The panels will provide enough renewable energy to generate 17 GW hours of electricity per annum, which will allow it to power all four terminals.
It comes as the aviation industry worldwide comes under increasing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint – earlier this year, for instance, a British court ruled London Heathrow couldn’t build a third runway because of environmental concerns.
Melbourne Airport said the project, conceived in 2018, will be the largest of its kind in Australia and will provide the equivalent of 15 per cent of the facility’s annual electricity consumption.
The airport’s head of utilities, Lorie Argus, said the project “makes sense”.
“The project is expected to deliver significant annualised energy cost savings, a timely benefit with the impacts of COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the aviation industry,” said Argus.
“We are committed to growing the airport in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable way. This renewable energy project is another chapter in that story.”
The solar farm follows similar projects installed at Karratha, Adelaide and Brisbane.
The latter claimed upon its completion in 2018 to be the largest commercial rooftop solar system in the southern hemisphere, consisting of 6,500 panels covering more than 22,000 square metres.
In July, Australian Aviation reported that Melbourne Airport’s domestic passenger numbers were down 98 per cent year-on-year in June – before the second city lockdown was enforced.
Before the pandemic began in June, Melbourne Airport welcomed 100,000 passengers a day and 670 aircraft movements.