World's First Solar Powered Airport At Cochin Is India's Champion Of Sustainable Energy: Report

World's First Solar Powered Airport At Cochin Is India's Champion Of Sustainable Energy: Report

by V Bhagya Subhashini - Tuesday, August 30, 2022 02:37 PM IST
World's First Solar Powered Airport At Cochin Is India's Champion Of Sustainable Energy: ReportCochin International Airport (WWF)

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, fueling global climate change.

If the aviation industry as a whole were a country, it would be among the world's top ten carbon-polluting nations.

The most carbon-intensive activity one can currently engage in is air travel. Over a year, a passenger flying from New York to London and back emits more emissions than the average person in Paraguay.

In 2010, there were 2.4 billion passengers carried by the aviation industry; in the following 15 years, that figure is expected to increase to 8.2 billion.

Without intervention, pre-COVID emissions from increased air travel may triple by 2050.

Creating sustainable airports is thus critical to achieving a more sustainable world. India has made significant contributions in this area.

Cochin International Airport became the world's first 'green airport,' earning the Champions of Earth award 2018, the United Nation's highest environmental honour.

The airport is powered by solar energy, which meets all of its electrical needs.

Regarding passenger traffic, it is the largest airport in Kerala and the seventh largest in India.

Installing the first solar photovoltaic power station plant on the Arrival Terminal Block's rooftop in 2013 proved to be a game changer.

It hasn't looked back since, adding several more solar power units to maximise energy production and produce enough to meet all of its needs.

The solar power units cost Rs 7 crore, though this figure may have already been recouped due to the substantial savings of Rs 7-8 lakh per month on electricity bills.

According to an Economic Times report, after achieving power neutrality back in 2015, Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) declared that it had reached a surplus of energy. CIAL's carbon footprint is now negative.

​​After the State Electricity Board, it is currently the second-largest energy producer in the Indian state of Kerala (KSEB). There is a cost-effectiveness culture at CIAL.

Given the low cost of Rs 303 crore at which it was built, the entire construction of the Cochin airport can be considered a marvel. This cost-consciousness is most likely what fueled the sustainability push.

The airport also uses the empty areas between the solar panels in the CIAL solar plant, which has produced close to 90 metric tonnes of pesticide-free veggies, for scalable agro-photovoltaic activities.

It is mainly in line with the government of India's efforts to promote natural and organic farming.

The solar project — led by managing director Vattavayalil Joseph Kurian has inspired CIAL to pursue several additional solar and hydropower projects throughout the state.

Following the success of the Cochin International Airport, the Indian government has mandated that every airport in the country generate at least 2 MW of solar energy.

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