Cochin International Airport becomes the world’s first to operate completely on solar power.
Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) is now the world’s first completely solar powered airport. The 12 MWp solar power plant was formally inaugurated by Kerala Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy on 18th August 2015.
The plant consists of 46,150 solar panels laid across 45 acres near the airport’s cargo complex.
With the new solar panels, Cochin airport will have 50,000 to 60,000 thousand units of electricity per day to be consumed for all its operational functions, which technically makes the airport ‘absolutely power neutral’. This is also the country’s first airport built under the PPP (public–private partnership) model.
This is just the latest step in CIAL’s long term policy of sustainable development. In March 2013 the airport ventured into the Solar PV sector by installing a 100 kWp solar PV plant on the roof top of the Arrival Terminal Block.
This was a trend setter in the field of grid-connected solar PV in the state of Kerala. The plant was installed by the Kolkata based M/s Vikram Solar Pvt. Ltd. and made use of 400 polycrystalline modules of 250Wp with five 20kW capacity Refu-sol make string inverters.
After the successful commissioning of this plant, 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.
The plant used 4000 monocrystalline modules of 250Wp with thirty three 30kW capacity Delta make string inverters, making it the first Megawatt scale installation of Solar PV system in Kerala.
Both these plants are equipped with a SCADA system, through which remote monitoring is carried out and have jointly saved more than 550MT of carbon emissions.
Another larger, 12MWp solar PV plant will be set up in an area of about 45 acres near the International Cargo premises. The project components include PV modules of 265Wp capacity manufactured by Renesola, and inverters of 1MW capacity manufactured by ABB India.
After commissioning, this installation is expected to generate around 48000 units per day; which along with the electricity generated from the existing 1.10 MWp plants, would be sufficient to meet the power requirement of the airport.
The airport works on a grid connected system without any battery storage, although a power banking module with the Kerla State Electricity Board (KSEB) has been worked out.
CIAL transfers the power it produces in the day time to the KSEB grid and ‘buys’ back the power from the board when needed (especially at night). This plant will produce 18 million units of solar power annually – the equivalent of powering 10,000 homes for one year.
“We consume 48000 units (KWh) a day, so if we can produce the same, by strictly adhering to the green and sustainable development model that we always follow, that would send a message to the world,” says 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.”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.
Text By Alyssa Lobo