• India Home to World’s First Solar-Powered Airport

Environmental Laboratory

India Home to World’s First Solar-Powered Airport

Aug 24 2015

The city of Cochin (sometimes known as Kochi) in India is home to the world’s very first airport to be powered entirely by the Sun’s ray. Owned by Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), the complex covers 45 acres and is covered by a whopping 46,150 solar panels, all of which will work to generate anywhere between 50,000 and 60,000 units of electricity on a daily basis.

The airport was inaugurated last week on the 18th August by the Honorary Chief Minister Mr Oommen Chandy. This switch to completely renewable energy is just the latest in a string of environmentally-conscious efforts made by CIAL, having first installed a 100kW solar panel on the Arrival Terminal building back in February of 2013.

Then, in November of the same year, they upgraded the facility to a 1MW unit. Currently, it’s capable of producing 12MW.

Planning for the Future

The expansion of the solar panels is unique among large scale facilities such as airports, especially in Asia. It makes great sense both economically and ecologically, saving CIAL money and the environment from widespread pollution.

CIAL’s plan is to sell all energy harvested by the panels to the state-run Kerela State electricity board. Then, they will purchase back the energy needed at favourable rates as and when it is needed, including during the day and at night.

It’s a strategy which will save the company over 300,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over the next 25 years. Translated into other terms, this is the equivalent of planting three million trees or not driving 750 miles, according to a press release by the company.

Good News for Asia

The Asian continent has traditionally suffered a poor reputation when it comes to its energy consumption and environmentally-friendly policies. However, the news that the very first solar-powered airport in the world is Asian is a massive step in the right direction. Meanwhile, new methods of air quality assessment in Vietnam are being applied to Hanoi airport to attempt to raise levels of air quality and make preventative measures easier to implement.

The other giant Asian country, China, has traditionally endured a torrid time when it comes to air quality, with the nation widely believed to have the poorest quality of anywhere in the world. However, it even appears the Chinese are turning over a new leaf in this respect, with a need for better monitoring of current standards, planning of future improvements and a dedicated plan to employ these measures being discussed.

In fact, the encouraging news surrounding air quality and airports in Asia is in direct contrast to the corresponding stories in our country. Heathrow Airport was recently cleared to install a third runway after being given the backing of the Davies Commission, although the ruling has caused much controversy and is likely to be challenged in court. In any case, it’s discouraging that British policy with regards to air quality and green energy appears to be lagging far behind those of the Asian nations, but Cochin’s innovation might hopefully pave the way for other airports to follow suit.


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