The world is developing at a faster pace than ever before; the scientific and technological development we have seen in the last few decades alone is unprecedented by anything we’ve previously experienced as a species. However, the human thirst for rapid development has come at a significant price to our environment. Climate change and global warming have become some of the most important challenges the world is currently facing.

Carbon dioxide emission is one of the major factors responsible for global warming, and the combustion of fossil fuels for our energy needs is the major source of those dangerous emissions. In short, there is an urgent need for a greener and cleaner energy source.

Kerala is a small state on the southwest coast of India. The state is also known as “gods own country” because of its breathtaking scenery and undeniable natural beauty. The state is also one of the greener states in the country. More specifically, this small state has taken a major step towards greener and cleaner energy by developing the world’s first airport to be run completely on solar energy.

Cochin airport, India’s fourth-largest international airport, will has become the first airport to function completely on solar energy, marking a major milestone on our planet.

Turning Solar: Cochin International Airport

Cochin international airport is the fourth-largest airport in the country in terms of passenger traffic and requires about 48,000 units of electricity per day. On August 18, Cochin International Airport Limited  (CIAL) announced that the airport will run completely on solar power, making it the first airport in the world to do so.  This will make the airport “absolutely power neutral”- which means that it can create as much energy as it consumes.

The airport is one of the largest in India, with over 1,500,000 square feet of terminal space alone. In order to generate enough power to run the whole airport, authorities had to build a 12MW solar plant at the airport itself. The plant comprises 46,150 solar panels spread across 45 acres of land (equivalent to 25 football fields) in the cargo complex of the airport. The plant is expected to generate about 50,000-60,000 units of electricity per day, which is more than enough for the airport’s requirement.

Advantages of Turning Solar

The solar plant cost CIAL about 10 million dollars to construct, but with the present amount of daily electricity consumption by the airport, they will be able to recover this amount in a span of roughly 5 years. The solar panels are expected to last for about 25 years, so the airport has at least two decades of significant savings based on this plan, not to mention the benefit to the environment. CIAL also has plans to sell the surplus energy produced from the plant back to the local electricity utility: Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).

The solar plant will be able to prevent 3,00,000 tons of carbon emission from coal-fired power plants over a period of 25 years, which is equivalent to planting 3 million trees or eliminating 750 million miles of driving a fossil-fuel burning car in that same time frame. In other words, apart from saving money, the plant will significantly reduce global warming by producing greener and cleaner energy, hopefully inspiring others to follow suit.

What Does this Mean for India?

India is one of the most rapidly growing economies, but is also the fourth-largest country in terms of carbon emission. The country is trying to move towards greener energy sources, and Cochin airport will definitely set an example for the rest of the country.

The Indian government hopes that other airports and industrial plants will follow Cochin airport’s example and turn to solar energy for their power needs. This will help the country reduce its carbon emission, thus making the environment of the entire planet safer and cleaner.

 

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