Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), in India, has become the first airport in the world that operates completely on solar power. An array of 46,150 solar panels laid across 45 acres in a nearby cargo complex, Cochin airport's solar power plantis producing 50,000 to 60,000 units of electricity per day to be consumed for all its operational functions, which technically makes the airport 'absolutely power neutral'.
CIAL installed a 100kWp solar PV Plant on the roof top of the Arrival Terminal Block in March 2013. After the successful commissioning of this plant, CIAL installed a 1MWp solar PV power plant partly on the roof top and partly on the ground in the Aircraft Maintenance Hangar facility within the Airport premises, making it the first Megawatt scale Solar PV system in the State of Kerala. Both these plants are equipped with a SCADA system, through which remote monitoring is carried out. After commissioning, these plants have so far saved more than 550t of CO2 emission contributing to the efforts of CIAL towards minimising environmental degradation.
Inspired by the success of the above plants, CIAL decided to set up a larger scale 12MWp solar PV plant as part of its green initiatives. With the commissioning, this installation is expected to generate around 48,000 units per day which, along with the electricity generated from the existing 1.10MWp plants, makes the total output around 52,000 units a day, a number sufficient to meet the power requirement of the entire Airport. "When we had realised that the power bill is on the higher side, we contemplated possibilities. We consume around 48,000 unit (KWh) a day. So if we can produce the same by strictly adhering to a green and sustainable development model of infrastructure development, that would transcend a message to the world," Mr.V.J.Kurian IAS, managing director, Cochin International Airport Ltd, said. "In fact, we are producing a few MW of extra energy which is being contributed to the state's power grid."
This plant will produce 18 million units of power from solar power annually, the equivalent to power 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 300,000t, which is equivalent to planting 3 million trees.