Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) plans to build solar power plants at all six of the South African airports it owns and operates by November this year.
ACSA regional airports corporate affairs senior manager Senzeni Ndebele says the solar programme forms part of ACSA’s environmental sustainability strategy, which is a key element of the company’s 2025 strategy.
To date, ACSA has built solar power plants at the Upington, George and Kimberley airports, as part of the solar power plant project, with completion for regional airports expected by the end of 2017.
Feasibility studies at different stages are evaluating the possibility of installing rooftop installations at OR Tambo, King Shaka and Cape Town international airports, varying from 750 kWp to 1 500 kWp, as part of the project, says Ndebele.
He adds that the plants will ensure that the airports use less energy from the national grid, with the long-term plan being for airports to generate their own power.
By 2025, ACSA’s vision is to operate and develop airports, grow the company’s footprint, and be the “most sought-after partner globally for the provision of sustainable airport management solutions”, he adds.
ACSA’s strategy on environmental sustainability will consist of lower-cost operation outcomes, improved recycling and increasing alternative sources of energy supply.
ACSA stated in a media release in July last year that, in the past few years, it had seen encouraging signs of growth in regional economic development: “It is for this reason that we continue to develop in our regional airports”.
The aviation sector globally faced a few security threats last year, and stringent immigration laws also affected air travel (whether for work or leisure), resulting in less use of this mode of transport, says Ndebele.
Other challenges include air travel cost, especially to regional airports, as less income is generated, owing to fewer people making use of air travel. Environmental challenges, such as reducing carbon emissions, noise and air pollution also play a role, as airports need to collaborate with the respective local government structure.