South Africa’s George Airport has become the first in the continent to open a solar-powered airport. 

George Airport, which serves over 600,000 passengers annually, has launched a clean energy project which, during its first phase, will contribute around 40% of the airport’s electricity needs. Once completed, the airport is expected to be totally independent of the national grid.

Located between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, George Airport will meet 41% of its energy demand from a brand new 200 square meter solar power plant built on its grounds.

According to South Africa’s Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, 750 kilowatts of electricity will be generated from the solar plant during the first phase of the project, which she said would be sufficient to meet the daily needs of the airport.

George Airport is only the second in the world that uses solar energy, following Cochin International Airport in India.

George Airport manager Brenda Vorster welcomed the project, which currently powers the airport’s car rental area, cargo warehousing, flight schools and airline offices, adding that “our second phase will be starting within the next year”.