Airports Company South Africa has launched its first 200 square meter solar power plant at George Airport in the Western Cape, making it Africa’s first, and currently the only regional airport in South Africa, to be powered through solar energy.
The solar plant is located on the grounds of George Airport.
Building the solar plant in the airport grounds began in March 2016 and took six months to complete at a cost of R16-million.
The first phase, which is now complete, will supply 41% of the airport’s current energy demand, while the balance will be drawn from the national grid with supply capacity steadily being increased as per demand factors.
The plant is designed to deliver 750Kw power to the airport once complete.
Through photovoltaic (PV) technology, solar radiation is converted into electricity. The technology effectively generates electricity from solar radiation. The use of renewable energy is in line with the Airports Company South Africa’s sustainability goals. The development of the plant is also aligned with the company’s aspirations to reduce its reliance on the national power grid.
Skhumbuzo Macozoma, chairman of the Airports Company South Africa, says the company will introduce an energy mix into all its airports and its long term vision, from 2025 to 2030, 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 minimise our environmental impact,” he says. “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.”
Airports Company South Africa CEO Bongani Maseko comments: “The interconnection between us and the external environment is the core of our value creation. We are always on the lookout for opportunities to develop cleaner energy sources that also aid us in our cost-cutting efforts as well as lessen the pressure of power demand on the national grid.”