PICS: SA launches third solar powered airport

2016-07-22 11:57
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Cape Town – The Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, has unveiled a solar plant at Upington International Airport in the Northern Cape on Friday - marking the third green energy airport in South Africa. 

The solar plant, a clean energy source, will supply the airport with a viable alternative source of electricity.

It was built by the agency of the National Department of Transport, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), which is committed to reduce load shedding on the country’s constrained power grid. 

Upington International Airport Solar Plant is the second of its kind in the Northern Cape Province. The first Solar Plant in the province was launched by Minister Peters at Kimberly Airport in May this year after launching another one at the George Airport in the Western Cape Province in February. 

In total, South Africa now has three solar powered airports.

Construction of the facility commenced on 7 October 2015. The Airports Council International recently named Upington the best airport in Africa that services fewer than two million passengers per year. 

According to the Department of Transport, the new solar plant in Upington has a lifespan of 25 years, and is designed to deliver 1 040 500 kilowatt hours of power per annum to meet the operational needs of the airport.

The solar farm is located on 0.66 hectares of land within the airport precinct and uses an 11kV substation as it its main source of supply which is also located on the airport’s land. The construction of the plant at Upington Airport started in October 2015 and was completed in April 2016 at a cost of R12.2 million.

The solar plant uses 1620 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and 18 inverters to convert solar radiation into electricity. 

The capacity of THE Upington solar plant is 500 kilowatts of peak production per year. The electricity generated from the plant will be distributed to the airport power grid and will ensure that the airport is self-sustaining in terms of power needs.

ACSA aims to complete solar plants at all six its regional airports at an estimated total cost of R90 million. The other three remaining regional airports are Port Elizabeth International Airport, East London Airport and Bram Fischer International Airport in Bloemfontein.

The solar power programme forms part of Airports Company South Africa’s environmental sustainability strategy, a key element of the company’s 2025 strategy. The company aims to achieve carbon neutrality in energy consumption and to run green airports that achieve a Green Building Council of South Africa six-star rating.

“With high electricity demand in country, Airports Company South Africa wants to reduce the regional airports’ dependence on the national power grid. As an environmentally conscious company we believe it’s our role keep energy security and diversification of the energy matrix as our key priority to ensure sustainability of business activities,” says Jabulani Khambule, General Manager for Regional Airports at ACSA.

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