JFK’s New Terminal One to host New York City’s largest rooftop solar array
The largest rooftop solar array in New York City and on any U.S. airport terminal will illuminate John F. Kennedy International Airport’s future New Terminal One in just a few years, the firms behind the project announced on Thursday.
The massive photovoltaic system — of more than 13,000 solar panels — will help power an independent microgrid poised to transform the terminal “into the first fully resilient airport transit hub in the New York region,” according to the companies behind the project.
The electricity generated by the 11.3-megawatt microgrid will be enough to power 3,570 average U.S. homes for one year, the partners stated.
“This New Terminal One infrastructure project illuminates a new pathway to decarbonizing the air transportation sector,” Juan Macias, CEO of energy-as-a-service provider AlphaStruxure, said in a statement.
AlphaStruxure — a joint venture of global investment firm Carlyle and Schneider Electric — will be designing, constructing and operating the New Terminal One (NTO) microgrid.
NTO, meanwhile, is a consortium of labor, operating and financial partners who are building the terminal with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
“We’re thrilled to provide a holistic microgrid solution that will keep NTO powered through outages and advance the city, state, and Port Authority’s ambitious decarbonization goals,” Macias added.
Once operative, the microgrid will deliver immediate greenhouse gas emission reductions of 38 percent and decrease pollution levels in the surrounding communities, according to AlphaStruxure.
“This is future-focused infrastructure that will facilitate the transition away from fossil fuels and sets a new standard for large-scale renewable development in New York and in the air transit sector,” Gerrard Bushell, CEO of the New Terminal One Development at JFK, said in a statement.
The partners are positioning the future 2.4 million-square-foot terminal as “a global gateway to the New York metropolitan area,” which could also create more than 10,000 new jobs.
The first 14 gates of New Terminal One are expected to open in 2026, while the remaining nine should should be operative by 2030, Macias said at a Tuesday briefing.
Residents of Southeast Queens “will benefit from cleaner air, from the economic development of the investment and of course the jobs that accompany such a project,” according to Macias.
Passengers flying into JFK’s New Terminal One will be greeted not only by the murky vista of Long Island’s Jamaica Bay, but also by a sea of solar panels helping illuminate the energy-intensive airport infrastructure.
About 7.66 megawatts will come from rooftop solar, or enough to power 1,039 average U.S. homes annually, according to the announcement.
Another 3.68 megawatts will come from fuel cells — efficient devices that directly convert the chemical energy in hydrogen to electricity, with water and heat as byproducts.
Although the fuel cells will initially be powered by natural gas, Macias said he expects that they will transition to either biogas or green hydrogen, pending the availability of both resources.
The system will include 2 megawatts of battery energy storage, while also using reclaimed heat to generate chilled water and heat hot water, the company explained.
The microgrid will consist of four so-called power islands, with each island operating as a local, integrated energy system with independent sources of generation, storage, advanced automation and control, per the announcement.
Three of the power islands will be operative when the first 14 gates open in 2026, while the fourth will begin running when the rest of the gates are complete in 2030, according to Macias.
“The system enables continuous system operation with a seamless transition — that is, a transition that can happen in less than 100 milliseconds in the event of a grid outage,” Macias said at the press briefing.
“We provide the terminal with redundant capacity to work through and operate through system outages,” he added.
Key to establishing a resilient terminal is also the integration of robust cybersecurity architecture, including a network operating center that provides 24-7 monitoring of the system’s health, according to Macias.
Annette Clayton, CEO of Schneider Electric North America, echoed these sentiments, describing such resilience and reliability as no less than “a safety issue.”
“Microgrids are at the cornerstone of airports’ sustainable future,” Clayton said at the press briefing.
“Their green resilient power provides essential energy security — and energy security is equal to national security,” she added.
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