Cochin International airport (Kochi is also known as Cochin), the seventh busiest airport in the country, has become the world’s first fully solar powered airport. Yes, they no longer pay any electric bills to the grid. The airport needs a massive 50,000 units of electricity per day.
How Does It Work
The authorities have installed a new 12 megawatt power (MWp) solar plant consisting of 46,150 solar panels, spread over 45 acres in the airport complex. There is no battery backup. During the day, the power generated by the solar panels is supplied to the airport for all its operations and the excess is sold to the Kerela State electricity board (KSEB) grid. This ‘excess’ is supplemented by the grid after the sun goes down. Such an arrangement has made the airport completely power neutral.
The airport had earlier experimented by installing a 100 kWp solar power plant. As it was successful, they scaled it up to power the airport completely on solar power. This megawatt scale solar power plant is helping cut down around 550 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions which is equivalent to planting around 3 million trees.
Where Else Will It Be Implemented
The union aviation minister, Ashok Gajapati Raju, has also asked the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to convert at the least four airports to solar energy by February, 2017 . In the 1st phase, Bhubaneswar, Madurai, Gaya and Varanasi airports will be made energy neutral. Bhubaneswar airport already has a 100 kW solar plant that is used for lighting the runway and parking areas. A 5MW solar plant is being planned here. Ahmedabad, Chennai, Jaipur, Kolkata and Chandigarh airports will begin in the 2nd phase and are expected to add 23MW of solar power.
Does It Make Sense For Airports To Function On Solar Power
Solar power is ideal for airports because they have huge vacant areas for installing solar panels and their own energy requirement is high. So the electricity doesn’t need to be transported elsewhere. Considering the fact that they have such space to generate excess electricity, they can sell off to the grid too, as Cochin International Airport is doing already. While flying is not a green mode of transportation, making airports powered completely on solar energy is certainly ‘green-ing’ the process.
 Economic Times – Aviation ministry asks all airports to install solar energy units 25-12-2015
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