There are lots of ways to get to Morocco for COP22 climate talks, but if travelers are making the long trip from South Africa’s tip to Marrakech, there’s a chance that a connecting flight may go through George Airport.
From a sustainability standpoint, what’s exciting about George is that it’s the first airport in Africa to rely on solar energy, and represents a big first step in changing the carbon-intensive aviation industry.
The solar plant, built by Airports Company South Africa, is a 200-square-meter facility on the grounds at George (GRJ), primarily a regional hub that sees 700,000 passengers and significant freight shipping each year. The USD$1.2 million project (R16 million) was officially opened in February 2016.
With completion of the first phase, the solar plant was able to deliver 41 percent of the energy needed at George to run the control towers and the baggage carousels, the check-in desks and the ATMs. At full power, the system delivers 750Kw through its 2,000 solar panels and feeds energy back to the grid.
“As an airports management company running nine airports nationally, part of our strategic objective is to minimize our environmental impact,” said Skhumbuzo Macozoma, the company’s board chairman.
“There are a number of key drivers Airports Company South Africa needs to manage to reach this objective and these include reducing energy consumption, water consumption, percentage of waste recycled, noise levels and energy efficient materials usage, amongst others.”
The George Airport is the second solar-run airport in the world, behind Cochin in southern India, according to phys.org.
Image: Airports Company South Africa