Through the power of the sun, Upington airport in the Northern Cape has become the third airport in South Africa to draw electricity from a solar power plant.

The plant has been designed to output just over 1MW hours of power per year, so that it meets the power draw requirements of the airport.

“The solar farm is located on 0.66 hectares of land within the airport precinct and uses an 11kV substation as it its main source of supply which is also located on the airport’s land,” Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) said in a statement.

The plant saw its first construction in 2015, and was completed in April this year at a total cost of R12.2 million.

It might sound like a lot for the plant, but it makes use of 1 620 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and 18 inverters to convert solar radiation into electricity.

“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,” ACSA said.

As mentioned, Upington is the third airport to receive the solar panel treatment, and this is in line with ACSA’s plan to install solar panels at all its domestic airports.

Two more plants have already been earmarked for a solar plant: one in George, and another for Kimberley. The planning stages for the airports in Port Elizabeth, East London and Bloemfontein is well underway.

“With high electricity demand in country, Airports Company South Africa wants to reduce the 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,” said Jabulani Khambule, General Manager for Regional Airports at ACSA.

[Image – Supplied]


Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.