Expanding on its award-winning solar energy station, Alice Springs Airport will soon have one of the largest airport solar systems in the country

Alice Springs Airport (ASP) is building on its innovative solar energy project, with plans to add more than 1000 photovoltaic (PV) panels to an extended shaded parking area.

The $1.9 million project will begin next month and will increase the airport’s capacity to produce its own energy by approximately 40%. It currently receives more than half of its power needs from the existing solar energy stations on site.

Alice Springs Airport General Manager Dave Batic said the latest solar initiative is the third stage of a long-term strategy to boost the sustainability of the airport’s operations.

“Our solar power projects have been hugely successful for the business,” he said. “We’re committed to further developing our solar energy capabilities, especially when it comes to thinking outside the square to make it happen.

“This latest phase will turn our entire long term car park into a solar energy station, and when it’s complete will offset the equivalent of 430 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. The combined total of our solar power output, more than 800kw, will offset a massive 1270 tonnes of annual carbon dioxide emissions.

“ASP was the first Australian airport to see the benefits of investing in large scale photovoltaic technology that feeds back to our grid,” said Dave. “Now with a system large enough to power 280 homes for a year we believe it’s one of the biggest airport solar stations in the country as well.”

In 2014, ASP was named Major Airport of the Year by the Australian Airports Association (AAA) for its investment into solar power infrastructure. The solar energy project also won the Safe Climate Award at the Environment Centre NT’s inaugural Ochre Green awards, which recognise outstanding efforts and outcomes by Territorians for the environment.

Local company Sitzler Bros has been appointed as contractor for the project and will continue the work it started with the existing solar shade structures, which Sitzler constructed in 2014. This stage is expected to be opened in late 2015.