Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) today officially unveiled its third solar power plant at Upington Airport in the Northern Cape. The unveiling ceremony was officiated by the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters with senior management representatives from ACSA. The new plant is designed to deliver 1 040 500 kilowatt hours of power per annum to meet the operational needs of the airport.
The solar farm is located on 0.66 ha of land within the airport precinct and uses an 11 kV substation as it its main source of supply which is also located on the airport’s land. 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 utilises 1 620 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 from the plant will be distributed to the airport power grid and will ensure that the airport is self-sustaining in terms of power needs.
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. The company has already unveiled two solar power plants at its regional airports in George and Kimberley. Plans are underway to install solar farms 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 six-star rating.
“With high electricity demand in country, ACSA wants to reduce regional airports’ dependence on the national power grid. 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,” says Jabulani Khambule, general manager for regional airports at ACSA.
“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,” concludes Khambule.