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Energy Master Plan, Low Carbon Microgrid Assessment and Preliminary Design at Denver International Airport

The City of Denver and Denver International Airport (DEN) engaged in a strategic energy and sustainability master planning effort to establish a 20-year road map designed to lower costs, reduce carbon, and increase resilience.

Burns was hired to evaluate energy strategies to accomplish DEN’s goals specifically related to a potential low carbon microgrid.

Burns conducted site surveys and evaluated DEN’s electrical distribution system infrastructure to assess potential microgrid topologies and utility interconnection options. Burns also modeled various distributed energy resource technology options and configurations, and how to best provide power during emergency events to the airport’s central core, a possible future terminal expansion, and in the most comprehensive scenario, the entire airport. The evaluation considered the energy and economic value of the different microgrid configurations as well as constructability, impact on DEN operations, resilience benefits and carbon reductions.

The Full Airport Microgrid configuration was determined to provide the maximum benefit to the airport at the least cost. The business model developed leverages third-party capital and expertise through public private partnerships with established energy companies.

Central to the concept is a Hybrid Power Plant that combines large utility scale solar (30-40 MW) deployed on part of the 50 square miles of City-owned property surrounding the airport, and batteries to complement low emission base-loaded fuel cells and dispatchable natural gas-powered reciprocating engines. The project also envisions active engagement and participating with the Xcel Energy, the airport’s electric utility.


Denver, CO


Denver International Airport



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