Cochin International Airport, Kochi, Kerela is the first airport in the world that completely operates on solar power, and in the next 25 years, it is expected that this project would have avoided 300,000 tons of CO2, which is equivalent to planting 3 million trees. Chief Minister Mr.Oommen Chandy inaugurated the production of the 12 MWp solar power plant, 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 makes the airport absolutely power neutral.
Cochin International airport (CIAL) building block was laid in 2013 and introduced as the Solar PV sector in March 2013, by installing a 100 kWp solar PV Plant on the rooftop of the Arrival Terminal Block. This was a trendsetter in the field of grid-connected solar PV in the State of Kerala. The plant was installed by the Kolkata-based M/s Vikram Solar Pvt. Ltd. 400 numbers polycrystalline modules of 250Wp with five numbers of 20kW capacity Refu-sol make string inverters were used in this plant. After the successful commissioning of this plant, CIAL installed a 1 MWp solar PV power plant partly on the rooftop 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. 4000 numbers of monocrystalline modules of 250Wp with thirty-three numbers of 30kW capacity Delta make string inverters were used in this plant, which is the first Megawatt scale installation of Solar PV system in the State of Kerala.
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 has been awarded to M/s Bosch Ltd. Mr.V.J.Kurian IAS, Managing Director, Cochin International Airport Ltd, said during an interview that;
“When we 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 units (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. In fact, we are producing a few megawatts of extra energy which is being contributed to the state’s power grid “
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, makes 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 the daytime) to (the grid of)KSEB and ‘ buy ‘ back the power from them when needed (especially in night).
This plant will produce 18 million units of power from the 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.
CIAL’s decision to install more panels is to meet that demand and retain its unique status as a fully solar energy-powered airport. At present, the solar power project comprising 46,000 panels is spread over 45 acres alongside the cargo complex. Another 10,000-plus panels would be installed in the remaining space here to generate an additional 2.40 MW of power.
Panels to be installed atop the building housing hangar would help generate 3 MW and those to be laid above the new park are expected to bring another 1 MW to the airport’s power pool. Generation of another 7 MW through panels to be installed over the three km-long irrigation canal would take the total installed capacity to 26.50 MW.