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Learn More About South Africa's First Solar-Powered 'Green Airport'

Oct 10, 2016 04:30 AM EDT

Africa is redefining the meaning of the phrase "world's best airport" as its new airport boasts of being the first solar-powered airport in the continent.

The airport in George, South Africa looks ordinary at first glance, but after a close look, solar panels are visible indicating that the establishment is a "green" building powered by solar energy.

George, a small town in South Africa with only 150,000 residents, is slowly being recognized worldwide for having a green airport. The escalators, check-in systems, baggage carousel, ATM machines, restaurants and even the control tower are all dependent on a solar power station. The station is located in a nearby field near the runway.

To produce enough energy to power the airport, it uses 2,000 solar panels that can harness and produce about 750 kW of energy daily. The airport only needs 400 kW to be operational, so the energy gathered from the sun still exceeds the requirements to run the solar-powered airport.

To make use of the extra power harvested, it is fed into a local power grid to supply power to homes in town. "Within this month [September], 274 households were supplied through this system with green electricity," an officer of the airport said in a statement

Not only is the airport receiving praises from environmentalist and conservation groups, passengers are also very happy with what South Africa achieved. "Planes have such a big carbon print," said a passenger. "If we compensate, that's cool."

This South African airport is a good model for other smaller airports around the world in terms of harvesting clean and sustainable energy from the Sun. If it can be done in a small town like George in Africa, then it can be done in other places, too.

The George airport is an old establishment built in 1977 to make travel easier for a former government official and president. This means this technology can also be applied even in outdated establishments with the right tweak and modifications.

Today, George airport is a busy thoroughfare for shipping flowers, oyster and, most especially, tourists that visit the area. Based on records, there are about 700,00 passengers passing through this airport each year.

Aside from not using fossil fuels and other types of energy sources, using solar energy also eliminates power outages. "Gone are the days when power failures used to a be a big thing for the airport. We no longer have those,"  Brenda Voster, Airport Manager said in a statement.


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