Cochin International Airport in the southern Indian state of Kerala has become the world’s first entirely solar-powered airport, unveiling a new system that will make the airport ‘absolutely power-neutral. The airport’s solar power plant, which comprises 46,150 solar panels arrayed across 45 acres of land, will produce 48,000 units of energy a day. The project was executed by Bosch Energy and Building Solutions (BEBS ) of Bosch India Limited, a leading supplier of technology and services.
Cochin International Airport had already begun the transition to renewable energy when it installed a smaller solar power array on its arrivals terminal roof in March 2013, but the move to total solar power is still considered a significant step, as the airport has still relied partly on non-renewable power in the intervening years. The new system is designed to work with the smaller array from 2013 to meet fully the facility’s day-to-day energy needs. This plant will produce 18 million units of power from the Sun annually – the power equivalent to feeding 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 over 3 lakh metric tonnes, which is equivalent to planting 3 million trees or not driving 750 miles.
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 will give as much power it produces (in daytime) to (the grid of) KSEB and buy back the power from CIAL when needed (especially in night). V J Kurian, IAS, Managing Director of Cochin International Airport Limited, says: “When we had realised 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 (KW h) a day, so if we can produce the same, by strictly adhering to the green and sustainable development model of infrastructure development that we always follow, that
would send a message to the world. Now this has become the world’s first airport that fully operates on solar power.
In fact, we are producing a few megawatt of extra energy, which is being contributed to the state’s power grid.” According to Dr Steffen Berns, president of Bosch Group India and managing director Bosch Limited, “based on installed capacity, CIAL is the largest project which has been executed by the Bosch Energy and Building Solutions team in India till date. Designed entirely in-house at Bosch, the project was driven by a dedicated engineering team and was supported by full-time quality and safety experts working onsite. The agile team ensured delivery within agreed timelines despite challenging requirements such as specific safety standards due to proximity to the airport or excessive rainfall.
“Bosch Energy and Building Solutions is an integral part of the Bosch group. In India, the division is involved in executing solar-powered and energy efficiency projects. We have a pan-India presence and have executed projects across the country. Within two years, 50 MW of solar projects either have been commissioned or are in development. In future, we aim to further strengthen our presence in India,” according to C M Venugopalan, Head of Bosch India Energy Business•