Engineering 101

Indian Airport Becomes First-Ever To Run Completely On Solar Power

Cochin International Airport (CIAL) in Kerala, India has recently made aviation history by becoming the first airport to run only on solar power.

Last week, the 12 MWp solar power plant was unveiled, comprised of 46,150 solar panels spanning across 45 acres near a cargo complex. The solar power plant is now producing 50,000 to 60,000 units of electricity every day for all of the airport’s operational functions, making it ‘”absolutely power neutral,” according to CIAL.

Cochin International Airport in India. (Image via CIAL)
Cochin International Airport in India. (Image via CIAL)

CIAL has long been an advocate of implementing alternative energy technologies wherever possible. Two years ago, the airport installed a 100-kWp solar photovoltaic plant on the roof top of the Arrival Terminal Block. Once deemed successful, CIAL installed a 1-MWp solar PV power plant partly on the roof top and partly on the ground in the Aircraft Maintenance Hangar facility within the Airport premises.

Now the airport is completely solar.

The power plant is expected to generate a total output of around 52,000 units a day — enough energy to meet the power requirements of the entire airport.
The grid-connected system does not include battery storage so CIAL worked out a power-banking system with the Kerala  State electricity board  (KSEB) so that it will give just as much power as it produces during the day back to the grid and then buy back the power when it is needed (like a night).
“When we had realized that the power bill is on the higher side, we contemplated possibilities. Then the idea of tapping the green power came in. We consume around 48,000 units (KWh) a day. So if we can produce the same, that too by strictly adhering to the green and sustainable development model of infrastructure development that we always follow, that would transcend a message to the world. Now this has become the world’s first airport fully operates on solar power ” said Mr.V.J.Kurian IAS, the Managing Director at Cochin International Airport Ltd. ” In fact, we are producing a few megawatt of extra energy which is being contributed to the state’s power grid.”
This plant will produce 18 million KWh  from the sun each year and over the next 25 years will help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

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