Keeping up with the times, and the times are fast evolving especially in the renewable energy sector, the good old Solar PV solution has grown in leaps and bounds…and flight.
The implementation of renewable technologies is an integral part of South Africa’s green economy. There has been noticeable progress in energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies, such as solar power. South Africa has invested R32.8bn into transforming its energy sector, which relies heavily on inefficient and outdated coal-fired power plants, and highlights the vital role played by solar power, and other renewable energy sources, as part of the overall clean energy plan.
South Africa’s mass exposure to direct sunlight makes the country a prime location for solar power. This form of renewable energy is being implemented across various sectors with successful results.
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is proving its commitment to creating a greener future and reducing the load on the country’s constrained power grid, by commissioning its second and third solar powered airports. George Airport, in the Western Cape, followed by Kimberley Airport and now Upington International Airport, both in the Northern Cape, moved to greener solar energy.
This initiative shows the South African government placing priority on energy security, diversifying the energy matrix to ensure sustainable economic activity and demonstrates positive consideration of the environment. South Africa has relied heavily on coal as a main energy source for far too long and the extension of solar energy into industry falls in line with the goal for sustainable development.
The Department of Tourism has also played its role in contributing to a greener South Africa, in supporting the installation of renewable energy sources at major tourist attractions as part of the Tourism Incentive Program. The Program carries both environmental and cost benefits.
The completion of the solar power plant at Kimberley Airport is part of Airports Company South Africa’s broader plan to install solar farms at all its six regional airports.
The Kimberley Airport solar plant has already generated over 141 870 kWh and is estimated to produced approximately 927 000 kilowatt hours per year. The George Airport solar plant is generating 680 kW per day and is currently supplying 41% of the airport’s power requirements. The new solar plant in Upington is estimated to have a lifespan lasting 25 years, and is designed to deliver 1 040 500 kilowatt hours of energy per annum to meet the operational needs of the airport. The electricity generated from the plant will be distributed to the airport power grid and will ensure that the airport is completely self-sustaining in terms of power requirements.
The three remaining solar plants to be completed are for, Port Elizabeth International Airport, East London Airport and Bram Fischer International Airport in Bloemfontein. The initiative aims to achieve carbon neutrality in energy consumption by running green airports that achieve a six-star rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa.