Archive | October 9, 2016

South Africa Joins India with a Solar-powered Airport*

South Africa Joins India with a Solar-powered Airport*

By Beatrice Debut

George, a town of just 150,000 residents on South Africa's south coast, is home to Africa's first 'green' airport to be powered by the sun

George, a town of just 150,000 residents on South Africa’s south coast, is home to Africa’s first ‘green’ airport to be powered by the sun

At first glance there’s nothing out of the ordinary about the regional airport in George, a town of just 150,000 residents on South Africa’s south coast.

In fact though, the small site is Africa’s first “green” airport to be powered by the sun.

The control tower, escalators, check-in desks, baggage carousels, restaurants and ATMs—every service here depends on a small solar power station, located a few hundred metres away in a field of dandelions next to a runway.

Its 2,000 solar panels produce up to 750 kW every day, easily surpassing the 400 kW needed to run the airport.

The excess is fed back into the municipal power grid, and a computer screen in the terminal informs passengers:

“Within this month (September), 274 households were supplied through this system with green electricity.”

For environmentally-conscious travellers keen to reduce their carbon footprint, it’s a welcome development.

“Planes have such a big carbon print,” said passenger Brent Petersen, 33, in George. “If we compensate, that’s cool.”

George Airport was originally built in apartheid-era South Africa in 1977 to make getting home easier for PW Botha, a government minister at the time and later president.

Africa gets is first solar-powered airport in George, with a plant that converts solar energy into direct current electricity using solar panels Read more at:

Africa gets is first solar-powered airport in George, with a plant that converts solar energy into direct current electricity using solar panels

It now serves as a transit hub for shipments of homegrown flowers and oysters, as well as golfers visiting one of the region’s many courses. Some 700,000 passengers pass through its doors each year.

The solar plant, launched in September 2015, is the second solar-run airport in the world after Cochin airport in southern India.

Nestled between the Indian Ocean on one side and the majestic Outeniqua Mountains on the other, George was a surprising location for the first attempt at a solar-powered airport in South Africa.

Ambitious project

The town’s weather is unpredictable: in the space of half an hour, the temperature can plummet by 10 degrees celsius, the blue skies quickly replaced by a steady drizzle.

But so far, so good: even on overcast days, the plant still produces some power.

At night or when necessary, the system automatically switches over to the traditional power grid.

“The thinking was if we put (the solar system) in the worst unpredictable weather, it will absolutely work in any other airport in the country,” the airport’s maintenance director Marclen Stallenberg told AFP.

Passengers disembark from a South African Express flight at George airport

Passengers disembark from a South African Express flight at George airport

The environmental value of the ambitious project is already evident.

Since solar became the airport’s main source of power, the hub has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 1,229 tonnes –- the equivalent of 103,934 litres of fuel.

The electricity bill has been cut by 40% in the space of a year, “which is a plus for me on the budget,” said airport manager Brenda Voster.

Voster says it will take another five to 10 years to pay off the initial 16-million rand ($1.2 million) cost.

Meanwhile, regular power cuts, which in recent years have plagued Africa’s most developed economy, are a thing of the past, she adds.

Heavily dependent on coal, which is the source of 90 percent of the country’s electricity, South Africa is looking to diversify its options to avoid power cuts.

Robyn Spence, who works at Dollar car hire company at the airport, said they “had to replace quite a few computers” fried by electricity surges caused by power cuts last year –- no longer an issue with the solar system.

George airport's 2,000 solar panels produce up to 750 kW every day,

George airport’s 2,000 solar panels produce up to 750 kW every day

Untapped potential

But not all the retailers at the airport are feeling the benefits yet.

Lelona Madlingozi, a kitchen manager at Illy restaurant in the main terminal, said they had two power cuts lasting about three hours each just a month earlier.

“We could not sell anything in the shop,” she said.

Restaurants, said the , are not one of the essential services prioritised during power cuts.

Expanding the use of renewable energy is a key focus for management firm, Airports Company South Africa, said its president Skhumbuzo Macozoma.

The company’s goal is to achieve “carbon neutrality”, or net zero carbon emissions, by 2030.

In a country with an estimated average of 8.5 hours of sunshine a day throughout the year, solar’s untapped potential looks huge.

After the success in George, the airports in Kimberley—South Africa’s diamond capital—and Upington near the Namibian border have also gone green, with three other regional airports next in line.

George Airport now plans on increasing the capacity of the small power station by an extra 250 kW and will soon install batteries capable of conserving energy generated during the day for use at night.


Related Topics:

Russia Vetoed a U.N. backed French-drafted Resolution that Would End Air Strikes against ISIS*

Russia Vetoed a U.N. backed French-drafted Resolution that Would End Air Strikes against ISIS*


Western governments and Russia have clashed at the U.N. Security Council even while the Syrian government presses ahead with its military offensive against rebel-held areas of Aleppo.

The U.N. Security Council voted on Saturday on two rival resolutions on the fighting – one drafted by France calling for an end to air strikes and a second by Russia that urged a ceasefire but made no mention of halting the bombings.

Russia vetoed the French-drafted resolution that would have demanded an immediate end to air strikes and military flights over Syria’s second largest city, and for a truce along with humanitarian aid access throughout the country.

It is the fifth time Russia has vetoed a U.N. resolution on Syria during the more than five-year conflict.

The previous four times, Russia was backed by China, but on Saturday, China abstained from the vote.

Eleven of the 15 council members voted in favour of the draft resolution.

A U.N. resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes to be adopted. The veto powers are the U.S., France, Britain, Russia and China.

After Russia’s veto, the council moved to the second vote on the Russian-drafted text, but it failed to gather enough votes to pass.

“It was a day of high drama at the Security Council,” said James Bays, Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York.

“The Russian ambassador called it a ‘spectacle’. He said, ‘no one wins and we need to go back to diplomacy’.

“But certainly some ambassadors were pointing the finger at Russia because the first resolution that was proposed by France, which suggested that all military aircraft over Aleppo should be grounded, would have gone through if it wasn’t for the Russian veto.”

After Russia’s proposal failed to gather enough votes, Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, asked Russia to, “stop bombing Aleppo now”.

“It [the Russian proposal] failed because it failed to demand an immediate end to the aerial bombardment of Aleppo,” he said.

“It’s a sham. Just as Russia’s hollow commitment to a political process in Syria is a sham. The indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Aleppo is sickening and barbaric. Please stop now.”

In response to Rycroft’s comments, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, said “the UK should stop supporting terrorists instead”.

Stop supporting all the villains across the world, including terrorists,” he said.

Stop interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states. Stop your colonial habits. Leave the world in peace and then, maybe, things will improve in many areas and regions of the world.”

In the run-up to the votes, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s foreign minister, said the mounting tensions between the U.S. and Russia had created a situation “more dangerous” than the Cold War.

John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, has made clear his anger at the Syrian army’s Russian-backed assault on Aleppo, saying that its bombing of civilians could amount to a war crime.

Syria has made significant advances in its renewed two-week-old offensive in Aleppo, seizing territory to the north and pushing back the front line in the city centre.

The front line had remained largely static since the rebels captured the eastern districts in 2012.

Since the government’s offensive began on September 22, a few days after a joint U.S.-Russia-brokered ceasefire collapsed, at least 290 people – mostly civilians – have been killed in rebel-held areas, 57 of them children, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitoring group.

And 50 civilians, including nine children, have been killed in rebel shelling in government-held areas of the city, according to the SOHR, which relies on a network of sources on the ground.

It said government forces were making further advances on Saturday in the lead-up to the Security Council session.

The SOHR reported heavy air strikes on the rebel-held Fardos and Sukari neighbourhoods.

The assault by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces has led to a global outcry after air strikes on hospitals and a UN aid convoy.

The offensive has also elicited a warning from Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. envoy, that eastern Aleppo could be “totally destroyed” by the year’s end.

Council members held negotiations during the past week on the French proposal for an end to the bombing of Aleppo, access for aid deliveries and a ban on military flights over the city.

Churkin said the French measure was “hastily put together” and suggested it was “not designed to make progress … but to cause a Russian veto.

“I cannot possibly see how we can let this resolution pass.”


Related Topics:

Terrorists Reject U.N. offer of Safe Passage from East Aleppo*

New Zealand the Mouse that Roared at the U.N.*

U.N. Removes U.S. Charges against Russia and Syria on Humanitarian Convoy Air Strike*

Russia Blocks U.N.’s Syria Sanctions Attempt over Questionable Chemical Attack Report*

U.N. Approve the Use of Force to ‘Protect Civilians’ in the Event of Armed Conflicts*

Russia Escorts U.N. Aid Delivery to ISIS-besieged Syrian Town*

The Joint U.S-Russia U.N. Security Council Draft Resolution “To Defeat ISIS!?*

The U.N.: Pretending to Oppose War for 70 Years – An Open Letter*