India’s Cochin International Airport (CIAL), the country’s first airport built under the PPP model has scripted another chapter in aviation history by becoming the first airport in the world that completely operates on solar power. The 12 MWp solar PV power plant was inaugurated on 18th August 2015, comprising 46,150 solar panels laid across 45 acres near the cargo complex. Now, Cochin airport’s solar power plant is producing 50,000 to 60,000 units of electricity per day to be consumed for all its operational functions, which technically make the airport ‘ absolutely power neutral.
CIAL, which has always had the philosophy of sustainable development, ventured into the Solar PV sector during March 2013, 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 India’s State of Kerala. The plant was installed by the Kolkata based M/s Vikram Solar Pvt. Ltd. and consists of 400 polycrystalline modules of 250Wp with five 20kW capacity Refu-sol string inverters.
After the successful commissioning of this first 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. This plant was installed by Emvee Photovoltaic Power Pvt. Ltd. with 4000 monocrystalline modules of 250Wp with thirty three 30kW capacity Delta string inverters. This was the first Megawatt scale installation of Solar PV system in the State of Kerala.
Both of 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 550MT of CO2 emission contributing to the efforts of CIAL towards minimizing 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. This was set up in an area of about 45 acres near the International Cargo complex. The work was awarded to M/s Bosch Ltd. The project components include PV modules of 265Wp capacity manufactured by Renesola, and Inverters of 1MW capacity manufactured by ABB India. With the 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, making the total output around 52,000 units a day, and would be sufficient to meet the power requirement of the Airport.
This is a grid connected system without battery storage and a power banking module with the Kerala State electricity board (KSEB)has been worked out; wherein, CIAL gives as much power it produces (in day time) to (the grid of)KSEB and ‘ buy ‘ back the power from them when needed (especially in night).
“When we had realized that the power bill is on the higher side, we contemplated possibilities. Then the idea of tapping the green power came in. We consume around 48,000 unit (KWh) a day. So if we can produce the same, that too by strictly adhering to the green and sustainable development model of infrastructure development that we always follow, that would transcend a message to the world. Now this has become the world’s first airport fully operates on solar power ” -Said Mr.V.J.Kurian IAS, Managing Director, Cochin International Airport Ltd. ” Infact, we are producing a few megawatt of extra energy which is being contributed to the state’s power grid “-added Mr.Kurian.
This plant will produce 18 million units of power from ‘ sun ‘ annually-the power equivalent to feed 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 3 lakh metric tons, which is equivalent to planting 3 million trees or not driving 750 miles.