Newly accredited airport in South Africa has a special climate story to tell

August 21, 2019

Investment in on-site production of renewable energy is one of the sure-fire ways to cut emissions under airport’s direct control. It is great when the clean energy produced this way partially covers the energy needs of an airport. It is tremendous when it is able to supply 100% of the airport’s energy demand and even create a surplus! Such is the case of the most recent entrant to the programme in the African region – South Africa’s George Airport
In June this year, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), the largest airport operator in Africa was recognised for their work to manage and minimise the carbon footprint of five airports within their network. The two busiest airports serving Johannesburg (OR Tambo) and Cape Town upgraded to Level 2 ‘Reduction’ of Airport Carbon Accreditation. The aforementioned George Airport has entered the programme at Level 1 Mapping, while King Shaka and Port Elizabeth International Airports renewed their accreditation at this level. 
George Airport was the first facility on the African continent to run entirely on solar power. The regional airport’s 2,000 solar panels produce up to 750 kW every day, easily surpassing the 400 kW needed to run the airport, with the remaining energy used to supply over 250 local homes. 
George Airport’s switch to 100% self-produced solar power as the first airport in ACSA’s network was meant to provide proof that such set up is a viable option for other, larger airports too. The weather in George, a town of 150,000 residents, is highly unpredictable and capricious, making it the perfect testbed for such solar system. The successful blueprint of the on-site solar energy generation has since then been implemented in two other airports owned by ACSA: Kimberley and Upington, and will be rolled out at hubs across the country in the near future.
Airports Company South Africa hopes to achieve carbon neutrality of their entire airport network by 2030, with the help of Airport Carbon Accreditation.