Cape Town - 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 750kW every day, easily surpassing the 400kW 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.