ACSA unveils Solar Power Plant at Upington Airport
Airports Company South Africa’s ongoing sustainability initiative bore more fruit at the end of July, when it unveiled a solar power plant at Upington Airport. The plant is the third such solar power initiative unveiled by Airports Company South Africa, following the establishment of similar plants at George and Kimberley airports.
The Upington unveiling ceremony was officiated by the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters alongside senior management representatives from Airports Company South Africa. The new plant is designed to deliver over 1 million kilowatt hours of power per annum, to meet the operational needs of the airport. The solar farm is located on 0.66 hectares of land within the airport precinct and uses an 11kV substation – also located on airport land – as its main supply source.
The construction of the plant at Upington Airport started in October 2015 and was completed in April 2016 at a cost of R12.2 million. The solar plant uses 1620 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and 18 inverters to convert solar radiation into electricity. The capacity of the Upington solar plant is 500 kilowatts of peak production per year. The electricity generated by the plant will be distributed to the airport power grid and will help make the airport self-sustaining, from a power perspective
The opening of the Upington solar plant is the latest step in the company’s plan to install solar farms at all six of its domestic airports. Having already opened plants at George and Kimberley airports, plans are underway to install solar farms at airports in Port Elizabeth, East London and Bloemfontein.
The solar power programme forms part of Airports Company South Africa’s environmental sustainability strategy, a key element of the company’s 2025 strategy. The company aims to achieve carbon neutrality in energy consumption and to run green airports that achieve a Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) six-star rating.
“With high electricity demand in country, Airports Company South Africa wants to reduce the regional airports’ dependence on the national power grid,” says Jabulani Khambule, General Manager for Regional Airports at ACSA. “As an environmentally-conscious company, we believe it’s our role keep energy security and diversification of the energy matrix as our key priority to ensure sustainability of business activities. In the past few years we have seen encouraging signs of growth in regional economic development.
It is role to develop our airports to positively contribute to regional development. It is for this reason that we continue to invest in our regional airports,” says Khambule.