It’s no great secret that in warm South Africa, the sun is now a far more reliable source of energy than Eskom. We’ve seen a number of homes and businesses begin to capitalise on this little fact since load shedding became the norm in 2015, but few developments have been as significant as the recent launch of a solar power plant at George Airport on the Garden Route.
The establishment of this farm purportedly makes the airport the first in Africa to be powered in part by the sun and shows a concerted effort to embrace photovoltaic technology to address the very real energy crisis plaguing the country.
The 3000 panels that make up the plant can produce up to 750 kilowatts of power at their peak and they currently have the capacity to reduce the airport’s electricity costs by 33%, according to Andre Vermeulen, the Airports Group Executive for Airports Company South Africa.
Apparently the plan is for George Airport to eventually be fully self-sustaining and function entirely on the clean renewable energy that it creates. Similarly, the hope is that all of the country’s other state-owned airports will ultimately follow suit – an amazing thought if you consider how much demand facilities as large as airports must place on the national grid.
Although the plant might not be all that pretty, the George solar farm is still remarkable from a design perspective seeing as it’s essentially helping the country to redesign its relationship with power and take a huge step forward in sustainability.
We feel it’s safe to say that in the field of renewable energy, South Africa has left the ground and begun to fly.
Image credit: Twitter feed of Airports Company South Africa.