CIAL’s solar sortie goes down well with Kochi metro

Taking a cue from Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) is scouting for land to house a solar farm to source energy to operate its impending fleet of 78 Water Metro ferries by 2021.

“We are on the lookout to obtain government land on lease. This has been taken up with the State government, and a response is awaited,” said A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish, managing director of KMRL which is spearheading the ₹750-crore Water Metro project in the Greater Kochi area.

Metro sources said around 80 acres were needed to produce 20 MW power. Around 15 MW solar power is needed to power the ferries. The rest can be used to recharge automobiles at ferry terminals, earning revenue for KMRL, they added.

He said a firm would be awarded tender to construct the first lot of 23 air-conditioned ferries that can carry 100 passengers in March for which financial bids would be opened on February 27. The firm will have to roll out the first vessel by December, and the rest will be supplied in batches, Mr. Hanish said. Each of the remaining 55 vessels will have seating capacity for 50 passengers.

On plans to introduce a fleet of zero-greenhouse-emitting vessels by 2021, Shaji P. Janardhanan, general manager, Water Metro project, said all the 78 ferries would initially operate on electric power for which they would be equipped with the latest of batteries.

“Energy from solar panels installed on the roof of vessels and ferry terminals might be inadequate since they have to operate up to 10 p.m. Moreover, bigger boats might have to be unnecessarily built if their roof has to tap more solar power. It is in this context that power from a solar farm becomes necessary. Excess power if any can be charged back into the power grid and sold [to KSEB] like what CIAL is doing,” he added.

It is for the first time in Asia that these many vessels will be operating within a limited geographical area under an agency’s operational control centre. The cost of batteries will come to around 40% of the estimated ₹4.5 crore for 100-seater ferries and ₹2.5 crore for 50-seater ones. The smaller vessels will be around 6 metres shorter than the bigger ones, it is learnt.

Sources said the plan was to ensure quick charging of vessels every hour at charging points at each of the 38 ferry terminals. The first lot of three terminals will be built at Vyttila, Eroor, and Kakkanad. Their tender evaluation is on, and the work will be awarded in 10 days. Apart from the terminals, electrical and signalling systems on the corridor have to be readied by December, metro sources said.

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Printable version | May 26, 2022 4:48:30 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/cials-solar-sortie-goes-down-well-with-kochi-metro/article26208457.ece