Airports play a crucial role in a community economic development and the national transportation network. However, both of those roles are disrupted with power loss during a short-term blackout or long-term utility outage due to natural disasters. Awareness to the vulnerability, fragility, and interdependence of the country’s existing electrical system has increased over the past decade due to advances in technologies that diversify the energy infrastructure. Power outages (either short or long term) impact an airport’s ability to operate causing traveler flight delays, extended layovers, loss of income for airport concessioners, or the inability for vulnerable communities to quickly receive emergency aid delivered by aircraft.
A solution to mitigate the risk and acute negative effects of power outages is for airports to act self-sufficiently in the generation and management of their own power. The ability to act independently enables airports to have enhanced control and protection from grid instability and requires a microgrid, a term the Department of Energy defines as “a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid.” University campuses, military bases, entire townships, and even island micro-nations have begun to pilot microgrid projects as an energy source.
The objective of this research is to develop an implementation toolkit for airport decision makers to pursue informed actions strategies with a comprehensive and methodical approach to inform their actions if they choose to install a system.