SA gets its second solar-powered airport

2016-05-14 07:00 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - Airports Company South Africa is steaming ahead with its plans to green South Africa's airports

On Friday 13 May, Kimberley Airport in the Northern Cape, joined George Airport in becoming South Africa's second airport to use on solar power.

The opening ceremony was attended and officiated by the Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters, with the department stating its latest move demonstrates its commitment to sustainable development.

In line with the South African government’s developmental imperatives, energy security and diversification of the energy matrix remains a key priority to ensure sustainability of economic activity and demonstrate consideration for the environment

The solar farm is located on 0.7 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 Kimberley Airport started in September 2015 and was completed within 24 weeks on 18 April 2016 at a cost of R13.5 million. Using photovoltaic 1620 PV panels and 18 inverters, solar radiation energy is converted into electricity. The plant is designed to deliver 500 KWp of peak production per year.

The plant uses an 11kV substation as it its main source of supply, which is also located on the airport’s land. To date the plant has generated 141 870 kWh and is forecasted to produced approximately 927 000 kilowatt hours per year. During the 24-week construction period five permanent and 26 temporary employment opportunities were created. In addition, rigorous practical training and skills transfer to operate and maintain the PV plant was conducted which included cleaning modules, replacing malfunctioning electrical components and monitoring performance of PV plant, amongst other technical skills.

The completion of the solar power plant at Kimberley Airport forms part of Airports Company South Africa’s broader plan to install solar farms at all its six regional. George, Kimberley and Upington Airport’s plants have already been completed and commissioned.

The other three remaining regional airports are: Port Elizabeth International Airport, East London Airport and Bram Fischer International Airport in Bloemfontein.

Greening initiatives across SA - #FutureIsClean: SA's plans to reduce global warming

In April, Minister Molewa signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement on behalf of the South African Government – an agreement that is universally regarded as a seminal point in the development of the international climate change regime under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

It represents a comprehensive framework, which will guide international efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to meet all the associated challenges posed by climate change. It signals the dramatic change in pace towards the low carbon development from 2020 onwards through commitments of countries in ambitious national plans called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

Solar power forms a big part of South Africa's NDC. Added to this, during his annual Tourism budget speech Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom told that solar powered initiatives will be launches at 6 iconic SA attractions, in a bid to step off the grid.  

ALSO SEE:6 Iconic SA attractions to get solar power boost

Recognising the environmental and cost benefits of moving towards renewable energy, the Tourism Department says it is supporting major destinations to install renewable energy sources as part of the Tourism Incentive Program. 

Heavy investment of R32.8bn and climbing

According to SA's NDc plan, the country is already investing heavily in transforming its energy sector. At the heart of this part of the transition to a low-carbon energy sector is a complete transformation of the future energy mix, which is designed to replace an inefficient fleet of ageing coal-fired power plants with clean and high efficiency technology going forward, says the DEA.  

South Africa is investing about 6% of what would be the upper end of the costs of its adaptation per annum for the period 2021 to 2030 – totalling US$ 2.31 bn (about R32.8bn @ R14.23/$) in 2015.

What to read next on Traveller24:

- #FutureIsClean: SA's plans to reduce global warming

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