George Airport in South Africa has become the first facility in the continent, and the second in the world, to run entirely on solar power. A nearby solar generator has been installed to run everything from check-in desks and baggage carousels to control towers.
The generator is linked to 2,000 solar panels, producing up to 750kW every day – only 400kW is needed to run the airport, with the remainder used to power more than 250 local homes. The only other airport currently running on solar power is Cochin International Airport in Kerala, India.
Around 700,000 passengers use George Airport ever year, with the facility said to have reduced its carbon emissions by 1,229 tons since it started testing the solar-powered system last year. Solar power is used throughout the day, with the airport switching to the national power grid during the night or in bad weather. Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), which runs the facility, said it hopes to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030, and plans to roll out the solar-powered technology to other airports.
Bongani Maseko, Airports Company South Africa’s chief executive, said, “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 and lessen the pressure of power demand on the national grid.”