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Microgrids and Airports

Flying just ain’t what it used to be. Long gone are the Mad Men era days when airports and planes were places you wanted to be. Budget cuts, advanced seating algorithms and the puritanical crusade against tobacco have sucked all the fun out of the air. S

Flying just ain’t what it used to be. Long gone are the Mad Men era days when airports and planes were places you wanted to be. Budget cuts, advanced seating algorithms and the puritanical crusade against tobacco have sucked all the fun out of the air. 

So, the last thing anyone wants is to spend extra time in airports due to a canceled or delayed flight. Unfortunately, that’s a common occurrence, and often the underlying problem is a faulty grid. In recent years, blackouts have grounded planes at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, New York’s LaGuardia Airport, John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, Philadelphia International Airport and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Just last weekend, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport lost power twice due to high winds, forcing them to delay the grand opening of a new $1 billion terminal. 

It should come as no surprise that airports around the country are seeking to mitigate such problems by installing their own microgrids. The Pittsburgh International Airport, for example, has announced plans to have a microgrid ready by 2021. The microgrid, which will pull from a mix of solar and natural gas sources, will be capable of powering the entire airport, which includes the airfield, an onsite hotel and a Sunoco station. 

Of course, Pittsburgh’s plans aren’t in any way novel. The Detroit Metro Airport already has one in place, and a host of others plan to install microgrids as well. 

Airports aren’t the only ones grid proofing their facilities either. A couple weeks ago, I highlighted Fort Knox’s efforts to be capable of energy independence in cases of emergency. Hospitals, industrial parks, and some college campuses have made similar moves. Personally, I don’t think this trend will slow anytime soon.


 

Henry Craver's picture

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 26, 2019 10:27 pm GMT

Unfortunately, that’s a common occurrence, and often the underlying problem is a faulty grid. 

I wouldn't have thought that the power availability was really playing that much of a factor-- I wonder if you know of any data out there for how often these delays/cancellations are actually traced back to grid issues? 

Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on Nov 27, 2019 1:10 pm GMT

Poked around briefly but couldn't find much on outages. Here are some stats on delays since 04, but no mention of outages. My guess is that many of the cases would be jumbled up with "extreme weather". Did see that a power outage just grounded a bunch of flights in Oakland yesterday though. 

Ben Schultz's picture
Ben Schultz on Dec 1, 2019 7:40 am GMT

"puritanical crusade against tobacco have sucked all the fun out of the air."

What do you mean by this? Naked flames and smoke-filled cabins are an afwul idea. It's only because of our naivete and laissez-faire attitude to public health that it was permitted in the first place.

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