Airports Company South Africa has launched its first 200 square meter solar power plant at George Airport. The Minister for Transport, Dipuo Peters launched Africa’s first solar powered airport in George this Friday, 26 February.
The solar powered airport will be fully functional independent of the country’s electricity grid since the installation of photo-voltaic panels will generate sufficient electricity to power the airport by harnessing energy from the sun.
Solar radiation is converted into electricity through photovoltaic (PV) technology which has been proven to be effective.
The solar plant which was finished two months ahead of schedule cost a total of R16 million. The solar plant is designed to deliver 750Kw power to the airport once it is in full swing.
The solar powered airport project is currently in its first phase and that one solar plant will supply 41% of the airport’s current energy demand, while the remaining power needed will be drawn from the national grid with supply capacity steadily being increased.
Chairman of the Airports Company South Africa Board, Skhumbuzo Macozoma during the opening ceremony of the plant said the company will introduce an energy mix into all its airports. He specified that the company’s long term vision is to achieve carbon neutrality in energy consumption and run Green Airports in order to achieve a Green Building Council of South Africa 6 star rating.
“As an airports management company running nine airports nationally, part of our strategic objective is to minimize our environmental impact. There are a number of key drivers Airports Company South Africa needs to manage to reach this objective and these include reducing energy consumption, water consumption, percentage of waste recycled, noise levels and energy efficient materials usage, amongst others.
“Harnessing solar power is a viable cleaner energy source which contributes towards diversifying the energy mix. This plant will ensure that the airport is self-sustaining in terms of its power needs and will eventually extend to the broader community within the George municipality,” Macozoma said.
The launching of Africa’s first solar powered airport in South Africa is a huge and commendable achievement which should be emulated by other African countries.