India is now home to the world’s first solar-powered airport

By Arman Kazemi

September 17, 2015

Cochin airport in southwestern India has become the first completely solar-powered, carbon-neutral airport in the world.

With over 46,000 solar panels across 45 acres near its cargo complex, Cochin International, India’s fourth-largest airport in terms of international passengers, now has the capacity to meet its full energy demand of 48,000 kilowatt-hours per day, and then some.

According to a press release, Cochin’s solar power plant currently produces between 50,000 to 60,000 kilowatt-hours per day, with the excess power being fed back into Kerala State’s energy grid. The airport can use power from the grid in peak hours after sundown.

This renders the Cochin International Airport “absolutely power neutral,” according to the release.

“We consume around 48,000 units of power a day,” said Cochin’s Managing Director V.J. Kurian. “So if we can produce the same by strictly adhering to the green and sustainable model of infrastructure development we always follow, we can send a message to the world.”

The 12-megawatt plant was commissioned by German engineering company Bosch and cost a total of US$9.5 million. It will produce enough energy annually to power the equivalent of 10,000 households for one year. According to the release, emissions averted over the next 25 years will be equivalent to planting three million trees.

While on a much smaller scale, Canadian airports have also made forays into solar power production.

In 2011, Ontario’s Thunder Bay Airport built an 8.5-megawatt solar farm to power almost 15,000 homes after 20 years. The initiative was one of the first solar projects on airport lands and will offset 7,500 metric tons of carbon per year.

Vancouver’s airport supplies much of its hot water needs using solar power, which helps heat over 800 gallons of water per hour with over $110,000 in energy savings per year.

According to the airport’s website, the solar heating system, along with nighttime usage setbacks and carbon dioxide sensors, “has led to a decrease of 25 per cent in natural gas use in the airport’s domestic terminal since 2001.”



Photo Credit: Nicolas Mirguet