Air New Zealand is using the sun to go green

24 Oct 2014

Air New Zealand is making operations more environmentally-friendly by using solar power to generate electricity for one of their hangars.

The 480 solar panels that have been installed on the hangar is the largest single solar array in New Zealand.

The panels will cover an area of around 750 square metres, which is equivalent to nearly three tennis courts. The energy generated from the solar panels is expected to provide up to 30 per cent of the electricity for the hangar.

In 2011, Air New Zealand made a goal to reduce the amount of electricity the airline uses by five per cent a year. However, they have  surpassed this goal and have reduced their electricity use by around 25 per cent so far.

The solar panels represent just one of the airline's initiatives to reduce energy consumption in the organisation.

"We are excited about the possibilities solar provides and hope to see some real energy savings through this array," Air New Zealand Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer Captain David Morgan said.

"We have been focused for some time on energy reduction whether it be through installing metering technology so we can monitor usage across different sites or increasing awareness amongst our staff on consumption and cost."

For companies that have an environmentally-friendly focus, business travel can have an impact on the environmental goals of the company.

According to the United States Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transport Statistics, US airlines average 0.12 kilometres a litre. Aviation emissions also make up 2 to 2.5 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

However, a number of aircraft manufacturers and airlines are making efforts to be more environmentally friendly. 

Qantas for example was named the 'Eco-Pioneer Airline of the Year at the Air Transport World (ATW) Eco-Aviation Awards last year for its comprehensive environment strategy.

Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner is designed to be more fuel efficient than previous models, and is 20 per cent more fuel efficient than planes that of a similar size.