Airport solar in Australia could power the nation

The boffins at the Journal of Building Engineering have released a report showing that if Australia were to install solar panels on top of the 21 government owned and run airports in the country, we’d be able to produce 466 GWh p.a., or roughly 140,000 homes per year.

Airport solar in Australia

The website Popular Mechanics have published some more information about the study from the Journal of Building Engineering, with lead study author Athenee Teofilo painstakingly mapping each and every airport to identify 2.61km2 of usable rooftop space. And since the roofs are usually flat, they’ll receive even more solar power than domestic panels (where solar panels absorb less energy with a slanted roof).

According to the report, Perth airport represents the best energy generating potential, but any airport with a “decent solar system” would be self-sufficient and will also generate enough to feed energy back into the grid.

It’s not like some airports aren’t already giving this a red hot crack – back in 2017 the $11m 6MW Brisbane Airport Solar System was announced – in FY20 the panels generated a gigantic 9.72GWh of renewable energy. Interested in further detail? You can read a case study about the Brisbane Airport Solar System on by clicking here. They mention planning to add another 5MW by 2025, so it’d be nice to see the rest of Australia following suit.

A press release on EurekAlert! has some choice quotes from lead researcher and geospacial scientist at RMIT’s school of science, Dr Chayn Sun (I know!):

“We can’t rely on small residential solar panels to get us to a zero-emission economy but installing large panels at locations like airports would get us a lot closer,” she said.

“We hope our results will help guide energy policy, while informing future research in solar deployment for large buildings.

“There’s so much potential to facilitate national economic development while contributing towards greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.”

Sun also noted that her team’s research only mapped airports owned by the Australian federal government – not the >150 privately owned airfields which could also benefit from solar panel installation.

‘Investigating potential rooftop solar energy generated by Leased Federal Airports in Australia: Framework and implications’, with Athenee Teofilo, Dr Chayn Sun, Nenad Radosevic, Yaguang Tao, Jerome Iringan and Chengyang Liu, is published in the Journal of Building Engineering (DOI: 10.1016/j.jobe.2021.102390).

Lumea – TransGrid to deliver 10 gigawatts of renewable power

NSW electricity transmission provider TransGrid will offer 10 gigawatts of renewable energy following a restructuring – the company split its commercial arm to a new offshoot company they’ve named Lumea.

Lumea and commercial solar in New South Wales

The NSW government recently announced a plan to attract $32b in private investment in the next 10 years – according to The Mercury, it’s focused on 12GW of renewable generation and 2GW of ‘long-duration storage’. This places Lumea in a great position to benefit from commercial solar and the projects it has on the go.

Lumea will start up with a portfolio of existing customer relationships from TransGrid, with involvement across 9,000MW of renewable energy projects currently operating or under construction, according to RenewEconomy.

The company will build, own and operate a 50MW battery at its Wallgrove substation in West Sydney. Lumea’s New England Transmission Infrastructure plan in NSW’s Hunter Valley will also result in 1400MW of renewables being added to the electricity grid.


The Transgrid website also has some information about the new spinoff:

First established in 2017 as a business division within TransGrid, Lumea has built an industry reputation as experts in designing, delivering and operating complex projects for customers. Combining proven expertise in infrastructure and telecommunication services and commercial and technical innovation, Lumea has a portfolio of over 10GW of renewable energy generation being brought into the market and is also a leading provider of telecommunications services with a focus on regional areas, data transmission and emergency broadcast services.  

“Our energy system is facing a critical point. The scale of renewable energy generation to date has been substantial but we know more is required and more solutions are necessary to effect the transition to a clean energy future,” Lumea chief executive Richard Lowe said.

“Lumea is at the forefront of the transition to that future. Renewable energy is the cheapest form of electricity in the market and by accelerating that transition we’re enabling the delivery of low-emission, affordable power in greater amounts than ever before.”

TransGrid, run by Paul Italiano, is owned by a consortium of Spark Infrastructure, core infrastructure fund Utilities Trust of Australia, private equity firm CDPQ from Canada, Tawreed Investments and pension income company Omers. The consortium paid $10.3bn to buy TransGrid in 2015.

Another brick in the wall for dirty electricity as the country marches onward to large scale commercial and industrial renewable energy projects. Better late than never!