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The state electricity board increased the power tariff of airports to Rs. 7/- per unit, from the existing tariff of Rs. 4/- per unit. This increased company’s annual expenditure towards electricity charges from Rs. 7 crores to Rs. 12 crores. Then, we forayed into generation of power from solar resources, as a cost saving initiative.
Entering into solar energy generation was identified as a solution to the spiraling energy costs. As Cochin was lying in the 100 latitude north of equator, we were receiving ample sunlight throughout the year. This gave us an impetus to turn into energy generation from solar source.
The airport had vacant land as well as buildings, which could be used for installing ground mounted and roof top solar plants. Also, CIAL had its own 110 kV substation connected to the state distribution grid, where power could be evacuated. This enabled us to directly consume the energy generated by us during the day time and only the excess generation is fed into the state distribution grid.
Before venturing into solar energy generation in a megawatt scale, a pilot project of 100 kWp solar plant was installed on the rooftop of International Arrival block. This plant generated an average of 400 units of power a day and was running without any glitches. This gave us the confidence to scale up to megawatt level solar plants. None of the stakeholders were involved in the implementation of our solar energy generation plants.
We were availing the banking facility with the state discom and the excess energy generated during the sunshine hours were exported and stored in the grid. This was imported back and used during the non-shine hours. Since this was first of a kind project, there was no clarity on the settlement of units and the discom was erroneously billing us for the total import of units, without adjusting the excess units exported by us during the sunshine hours. These issues were settled in due course of time. Also, the Regulatory Commission came out with “Renewable Energy Regulations, which addressed all the issues faced by megawatt scale producers in the state of Kerala.
State Regulatory Commission issued “Renewable Energy Regulations”, which allowed banking facility for megawatt scale producers of solar energy. This resolved the ambiguity prevalent at that time, in providing banking facility by the state discom.
The airport had vacant land as well as buildings, which could be used for installing ground mounted and roof top solar plants. Also, CIAL was lying in the high tariff category and hence the saving on energy costs for us were higher than those who were in the low tariff category and this substantiated our huge investment in energy generation sector.
The airport is currently running fully on solar energy and we are world’s first airport to be fully powered by solar energy. As on date, solar plants at airport have produced approximately 250 million units of power which has avoided CO2 emissions by more than 160,000 metric tons. Managing Director, CIAL Shri.S Suhas IAS received the Kerala State Renewable Energy Awards 2021 from Hon’ble Chief Minister of Kerala.
As on date, solar plants at Cochin airport have produced approximately 250 million units of power worth Rs. 170 crores (USD 22 million). This has avoided CO2 emissions by more than 160,000 metric tons which is equivalent to CO2 absorbed by 25 lakh of trees grown for 10 years.
Generation of solar energy for own use can be adopted by other airports / seaports and industries having huge consumption of power. This can be definitely adopted by all airports in our country, as aviation industry is a main contributor of human induced CO2 emission in the world and it is high time our country’s airports started initiatives to reduce the same.
The Government of India has declared India’s “five elixirs” for climate and the first target is “generation of 50% of India’s energy from renewable resources by 2030”. For achieving this goal, it is high time the large consumers of power turn into generation of its own energy from renewable resources.
- Solar installation based on Meticulously designed terrain
- Large scale implementation of Agri-photovoltaic practices
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