RDU, CAE, CHS, GSP, CLT. The common link is that these are likely the most important physical, economic development asset in big Carolina cities. The airports.

Yet it is PIT –  Pittsburgh’s airport – that caught our attention for an energy innovation. Maybe Carolina airports can borrow this good idea.

PIT will be powered by its own microgrid. A microgrid is a local energy grid with control capability, which means it can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously. (Source) In other words, a microgrid may add a high degree of energy independence to PIT. Even so, the big grid will be available if needed.

Gas plant rendering

At PIT, “The microgrid is unique because not only will it power both terminals, the airfield, the Hyatt hotel and a Sunoco gas station, it will be fueled in part by the airport’s own natural gas wells drilled on-site and nearly 8,000 solar panels across eight acres. Airport officials said the microgrid will make Pittsburgh International one of the most resilient airports in the world.” (Source)

Solar field rendering

The gas wells are unique to that geology in Pennsylvania versus Carolina airports, but the microgrid concept still is interesting. What if, let’s say, a small modular nuclear reactor could be used to power a Carolina airport and surrounding territory instead? Carbon-free energy for the airport.

“Other major U.S. airports evaluating the possibility of building microgrids include San Diego, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Denver International Airport is also considering plans for a full airport microgrid to bolster its energy reliability, after the city built a microgrid to power a transit center between the airport and the downtown area. Additionally, a microgrid powers the TWA hotel on property at New York’s JFK airport,” according to the news story.

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Many thanks to Blue Sky News/Pittsburgh International Airport for their permission to share the images from this story. Feature image is PIT.