Cochin International Airport, the first airport in the country to have been built under PPP model, has now also become the first airport globally that operates entirely on solar power. This way, the 7th busiest airport of India has set an example for other airports and establishments to emulate.
The 12 MWp solar power plant, inaugurated by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in August last year, comprises 46,150 solar panels laid across 45 acres near cargo complex. Now, Cochin airport’s solar power plant is producing 50,000 to 60,000 units of electricity per day to be consumed for all its operational functions, which technically make the airport absolutely ‘power neutral’.
Indian Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju visited Cochin airport in January, and exhorted other airports to follow Cochin’s brilliant example.
By spending Rs 62 crore for installing solar power system, Cochin Airport will no longer pay any electricity bill. As per their own estimates, the investment of Rs 62 crore would be recovered in the next six years.
Inspired by this success, Liberia’s airport authorities have visited them to understand the process, and George Airport in South Africa has also decided to turn solar very soon. Besides, Kolkata Airport has also initiated process to become independent from electric bills by installing a 72-acre solar park.
“When we had realised 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 unit (KWh) a day. So, if we can produce the same by strictly adhering to the green and sustainable development model of infrastructure development, it would transcend a message to the world. Now, this has become the world’s first airport fully operates on solar power,” said V J Kurian, Managing Director, 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,” added Kurian.
This plant will produce 18 million units of power from ‘sun’ annually – the power equivalent to feed 10,000 homes for one year. Over the next 25 years, this green power project will avoid carbon dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants by more than 3 lakh metric tons, which is equivalent to planting 3 million trees or not driving 750 miles.