|In August 2015, the Cochin International Airport Ltd, which runs the airport of Kochi, Kerala, commissioned its 12 MW solar power plant, it earned the distinction of becoming the world’s first airport to meet all of its electricity requirements from solar.|
With growing business, the cash-rich airport, which made a net profit of ₹180 crore in 2016-17, has become more power-hungry. A new terminal has come up; a new maintenance hangar is being built. The number of passengers using the airport has gone up from 13 million in 2011-12 to 20 million in the last financial year and will grow to 30 million in 2021-22 (compared with 45 m of Mumbai and 58 m of Delhi airports).
To retain its distinction as a fully solar-powered airport, CIAL has alongside been expanding its solar power capacity. Part of the expansion is a 6-MW canal-top solar project, on the Chengaltodu canal which runs through the airport.
In November, 4.5 MW of the canal-top project was commissioned and the rest will be commissioned any time now, according to P Jose Thomas, General Manager, CIAL. When that happens, the airport’s solar capacity will stand raised to 30 MW, the largest in the country.
The project is one of the larger canal-top projects in the country and was built for CIAL by Bosch Energy and Building Solutions, part of Bosch India, for ₹6.25 crore a MW. V J Kurian, Managing Director, CIAL, told BusinessLine that the solar power capacity would soon be further raised to 40 MW. He said that 2.7 MW of the airport’s solar assets is on a cap park. This will be doubled soon, and when that happens it will be the biggest car port solar project in the world, Kurian said. Because airports have a lot of ground and rooftop space, as well as electricity needs, they find it easy and worthwhile to put up solar projects.
Recently, the Kolkata airport commissioned a 15.5-MW solar project, and is already planning expansion. Delhi with 8 MW and Hyderabad with 5 MW are among the other large airport solar projects in India.
Reports have said that the Union Civil Aviation Minister, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Kolkata project in early December, had said that India would soon have 200 MW of airport solar.