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South African airport to run entirely on solar power

George Airport in South Africa has become the first in the continent, and second in the world, to run entirely on solar-generated energy.

The airport, located in the south of the country, is powered by 2,000 solar panels which produce up to 750 kW every day.

Just 400 kW is needed to run all aspects of the airport’s operations, so the surplus energy is being used to supply over 250 local homes.

At night or on rainy days, the system swaps to the national power grid to ensure a constant supply of energy.

It has become the second facility in the world – after Cochin International Airport in Kerala, India to operate completely on solar energy.

According to project organisers, the town’s unpredictable weather and relatively small number of passengers – 70,000 a year – made it the perfect subject to test out the technology and judge its replicability in other parts of the country and the world.

Other South African airports, such as the cities of Kimberley and Upington, are also planning to adopt solar systems after George Airport’s successful trial period.

Since it began testing the system last year, the airport has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by some 1,323 tons—the equivalent of 103,934 litres of fuel.

For the next phase of the project, airport authorities are looking to install batteries that will be used to store energy needed on cloudy days and at night.

The operating firm in charge of the project, Airports Company South Africa, announced it hopes to achieve “carbon neutrality”, or zero carbon emissions, by 2030.


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