Kerala's Cochin makes claim to being the first airport in the world to be fully powered by solar energy
Cochin International's new 12MW solar farm (photo: CIAL)
Wed 26 Aug 2015 – Cochin International (CIAL) in Kerala, India, claims to be the first airport in the world to be fully operated by solar power following the inauguration of a new 12 megawatt-peak (MWp) solar power plant. Comprising 46,150 solar panels situated on a 45-acre (18ha) site near the cargo complex, along with other solar plants already installed at the airport, around 50,000 to 60,000 units of electricity are expected to be generated daily to cover all power requirements. CIAL installed the first solar plant in March 2013 on the roof of the arrival terminal, producing 100kWp, followed by a 1 MWp plant partly situated on the roof of the aircraft maintenance facility and partly on the ground. Meanwhile, Alice Springs Airport in Australia has announced a A$1.9 million ($1.3m) project to complete one of the largest airport solar systems in the country. Both airports say solar power will enhance the sustainable development of their operations.
CIAL’s new solar plant was inaugurated on August 18 and will generate around 48,000 units (KWh) of electricity per day, which along with the electricity generated from the existing 1.10 MWp plants, will make the total output around 52,000 units per day. As the airport currently consumes around 48,000 units per day, the surplus will be fed back into Kerala state’s power grid and bought back when needed, such as during the night. CIAL says the 18 million units produced annually from solar energy is the equivalent of feeding power to 10,000 homes per year and will avoid over 300,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the next 25 years.
The airport’s Managing Director, V.J. Kurian, said the project was driven by high power costs and, by tapping into green power, it was following CIAL’s sustainable development model.
Alice Springs Airport (ASP) currently receives more than half its power needs from an existing solar energy station located on the roof of the parking area and now plans to add more than 1,000 photovoltaic panels. When completed later this year, it will increase the airport's capacity to produce its own energy by around 40% and is the third stage of a long-term sustainable development strategy.
“This latest phase will turn our entire long term car park into a solar energy station, and when it’s complete will offset the equivalent of 430 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year,” said the airport’s General Manager, Dave Batic. “The combined total of our solar power output, more than 800kW, will offset a massive 1,270 tonnes of annual emissions.
“ASP was the first Australian airport to see the benefits of investing in large-scale photovoltaic technology that feeds the grid. Now with a system large enough to power 280 homes for a year, we believe it’s one of the biggest solar stations in the country as well.”
In 2014, ASP was named Major Airport of the Year by the Australian Airports Association for its investment in solar power infrastructure and has also won a Safe Climate Award from the Environment Centre NT.