Cochin International airport in Kochi, India has become the world’s first airport to completely operate on solar power, according to a recent announcement.
The airport is powered by a 12 MWp solar power plant comprising of 46,150 solar panels laid across 45 acres. It now will have 50,000 to 60,000 thousand units of electricity per day to be consumed for all its operational functions, which make the airport 100 percent power neutral.
The system is connected to the grid, and lacks battery storage. A power banking module has been worked out with the state electricity board, which involves the airport giving the power it produces during the day to the grid, and then ‘buying’ it back when needed — especially at night. This solar 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, the project is expected to avoid carbon dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants by more than three million metric tons, which is equivalent to planting 3 million trees or not driving 750 miles, the announcement claimed.
Solar-powered airports seem only fitting when there’s now solar-powered planes buzzing about the globe. In March, the single-seat, solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse 2 successfully completed the second leg of its five-month journey around the planet, after touching down in Ahmedabad, India. A few months later, the plane set the new distance and duration records when it flew 3,519 miles in 80 hours over the Pacific Ocean, from Japan to Hawaii.
Intriguing as solar-powered planes are, biofuels may offer a more practical route to more sustainable aviation. In July, Boeing and Japanese aviation industry stakeholders partnered to develop sustainable aviation biofuel for flights during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, when millions of people are expected to visit Japan.