With over 2,500 hours of sunshine per year in South Africa, the country is committed to tap into this local resource, as last year, the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), unveiled three solar-powered airports across the country.
South-Africa is the first on the African continent to harness solar power.
By the end of 2017, three more regional airports will join the green initiative by launching solar power plants.
Half powered by the sun
CNN reports that the state-owned ACSA, in an email stated that it was committed to reducing the pressure on South Africa’s constrained power grid by around 50 per cent.
This is because the solar farms currently supply approximately 45 per cent of the airport’s power requirement. The remaining 55 per cent is drawn from the national grid.
“The long-term plan is to have the airports generate their own energy,” ACSA corporate affairs senior manager, Senzeni Ndebele said.
The company intends to “greenify” all its airports and achieve carbon neutrality by 2025, Ndebele explains.
South Africa’s organic solar future
South Africa was once the “darling of the renewable world” with a number of solar farms and an increasing amount of renewable energy being plugged into the national grid, energy analyst and director at QED Solutions, Dirk de Vos told CNN.
However, state-owned electricity utility Eskom has held off on signing new deals to buy renewable energy from private firms, saying they are too expensive — although Eskom maintains that renewables will remain part of the country’s energy mix.
But smaller-scale developments, such as airports and shopping malls, have taken advantage of the country’s well-developed solar sector.
“That whole ecosystem and skills base is still operating and can be used for smaller commercial rooftop PV operations quite successfully.
“South Africa’s solar future is going to be organic and done by companies to reduce their dependence on the grid and generate their own electricity,” he said.
De Vos considers solar power to be a competitive, cheap alternative to “electrify parts of South Africa” that might have otherwise been in the dark.
“I think we’re at the initial stages of a solar energy revolution,” he added.