South Africa now has the first solar-powered airport in the entire continent

Africa is now in receipt of its first solar-powered airport, a welcomed expansion for environmentally-conscious travellers keen to reduce their carbon footprint.
The South African airport is situated in the small town of George, where 150,000 coastal residents live.
It has over 2,000 solar panels which generate more-than-enough electricity to power control towers, escalators, ATM machines, restaurants, baggage carousels and check-in desks.

The power plant generates so much electricity in-fact its excess is fed back into the municipal power grid and dispersed to households throughout the province. And during September this green initiative reportedly supplied almost 250 extra homes with power.

Minister of Transport Dipou Peters celebrating the new solar plant (Photograph: Myron Rabinowitz via the George Herald)

George Airport was built in apartheid-era South Africa in 1977 for government officials, but now serves as a hub for some 700,000 passengers and numerous deliveries – from homegrown flowers to oysters.

Since the solar panels were unveiled back in September it has reduced its carbon emissions by 1,229 tonnes – equivalent to 103,934 litres of fuel.

Their electricity bill has also been been slashed by 40% as a result.

Airport manager Brenda Voster said the environmental value of the project is priceless but it may take five to 10 years to pay off the initial 16-million rand (£570,000).

Because power surges are a frequent occurrence (which can break computers) in South Africa, solar is also saving people money on electrical goods.

In short, this may not offset the detrimental emissions generated by long international flights, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

And weather conditions in George are quite temperamental, which means other, much sunnier places should be able to adopt a similar initiative with ease.

George Airport is now the is the second solar-powered airport in the world after Cochin airport in India (Photograph: J Model Management)

Source: Konbini

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