Moi International Airport in Mombasa will get the region’s first ground-mounted 500kW solar system, which will be interconnected to the its terminal grid.
The system, to be installed by Solarcentury East Africa, is expected to generate 820,000 kWh per year and offset 1,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
The firm is expected to install airport gate electrification equipment consisting of a mobile electric-powered preconditioned air unit, an electric converter and a backup battery that will provide uninterrupted power.
Director of Solarcentury East Africa Guy Lawrence said the project also entails the addition of ground power units (GPUs) to enable arriving aircraft to offset all their carbon emissions on the ground.
The electricity generated from the solar photovoltaic panels will power the gate equipment, which will supply pre-conditioned air and compatible electric power to aircraft docked at an existing passenger boarding bridge or parked at a remote stand.
They will eliminate existing carbon emissions from the aircraft on-board auxiliary power unit powered by jet fuel and from the GPUs fuelled by diesel, by providing pre-conditioned air and compatible electricity that runs on solar energy to the aircraft during ground operations.
Mombasa will be the first airport in East Africa to have such a solar power system.
It is a critical step in reducing the carbon footprint of aviation in Africa, in support of the environmental objectives of ICAO’s member states.
Once completed, the solar system will enable the international airport to save thousands of dollars per year on grid consumption for at least 25 years.
“We are excited to be the pioneer airports authority in the region to have the Solar PV system installed. The expected savings on electricity as well as reduction in carbon emissions will contribute towards the efficient operations of Moi International Airport,” KAA chief executive officer Jonny Andersen said.
Work on the site will take 10 months, and the systems are expected to be generating solar electricity by next year.
Solarcentury will provide two years of operations and maintenance on the system, and will set up two educational kiosks inside the terminal building to provide the public with real-time information on power output and carbon emission reductions over the life of the system.
The project is part of a $7.36 million initiative implemented by ICAO and funded by the European Union targeting 14 countries — 12 of them from Africa — to reduce carbon emissions in the aviation sector.
India’s Cochin International Airport is the first airport in the world to be powered entirely by solar energy. Huge power bills prompted the airport to build a 12 Megawatt solar plant that has more than 46,000 solar panels.
In August, Unep awarded Cochin International Airport its 2018 Champion of the Earth Prize. “This is the United Nations’ highest environmental accolade,” said Unep director Erik Solheim.
“As the world’s first fully solar-powered airport, you set an ambitious example that we hope many others will follow.”