South Africa has opened the continent’s first solar-powered airport in the Western Cape. George Airport, which serves over 600,000 passengers annually, has launched a clean energy project which, during its first phase, will contribute around 40% of the airport’s electricity needs. Once completed, the airport is expected to be totally independent of the national grid.
The airport will generate its electricity by harnessing energy from sun tapped through photo-voltaic panels which were installed at the cost of almost a million dollars. Airports Company South Africa, which runs the airport, hopes George Airport will be the first of nine airports under its control to run on solar energy as it chases the lofty goal of running airports fully on renewable energy.
During the launch, Dipuo Peters, South Africa’s minister of transport, described the solar airport project as one that “admirably demonstrates the South African government’s commitment to clean energy generation and sustainability, as well as to our country’s increasingly prominent role when it comes to global climate change issues.”
Should they need a working model to look up to for guidance, Airports Company South Africa can turn to India. Last year, at the cost of $9.5 million, Cochin International Airport Limited became the world’s first ever solar-powered airport.
The solar-powered airport is another first for the continent. Last year, Pavegen, a UK based start-up, launched a solar-powered soccer pitch, the first of its kind in Africa, in Lagos, Nigeria.