Cochin International Airport in the Indian state of Kerala became the world’s first international airport to operate completely on solar power with the inauguration of its 12MWp (Mega Watt peak) solar power plant. Given its size and activity (3rd busiest Indian airport for international flights), that’s quite a feat. The solar power plant comprises of more than 46,000 solar panels over an area of 45 acres near the airport’s cargo complex.
According to their official website, this makes the airport completely ‘power neutral’. The carbon emissions this will avoid over a period of 25 years would be equivalent to planting 3 million trees or not driving 750 million miles.
This is a grid connected system with no local power storage facility (at the airport). The power plant will sell surplus power to the state’s grid and buy back as much as it needs during the night.
Cochin International airport, which opened in 1999 began its transition to solar power in 2013, with the installation of a 100kWp solar power plant. Its capacity has grown steadily with other small-scale projects. Most of the installation and technology involved was produced by Indian companies. The successes of these projects inspired the operating body, CIAL to construct a 12MWp power plant and go completely solar.
India is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of electricity. A large part of it comes from coal, which is heavy on carbon emissions. However, the government has ambitious plans for renewable energy sources. Solar power generation capacity has been increasing steadily in the last few years and the country’s current capacity is more than 4 gigawatts. The government is targetting a 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022.
Image: Cochina International Airport Limited (CIAL)