Cochin International Airport Ltd. (CIAL), the world’s first fully solar energy-powered airport, surpassed another milestone earlier this week when its cumulative production touched 25 crore energy units, thanks to its many green energy initiatives.
This means that CIAL has until now reduced its carbon footprint by 1.6 lakh metric tonnes. So far, the airport has generated 75 lakh units from its hydro project alone. Combined together, CIAL has emerged the second largest energy producer in the State after Kerala State Electricity Board Limited (KSEB).
“CIAL’s development policy encompasses Total Sustainability Management (TSM). We try to explore every possible way to address the climate change. CIAL, which achieved power neutrality in 2015, has now become a power surplus organisation, feeding approximately 4 crore units of excess power annually to the State grid. And with the help of the government, we are sure that we can venture into more such projects in near future,” said S. Suhas, managing director of CIAL.
CIAL launched its solar initiatives back in 2013 with a 100kWp Pilot Plant. In the years since then, its solar capacity was expanded in phases to 13.1MWp, giving it the recognition of the world’s first airport to be fully powered by solar energy in 2015.
It operates eight solar plants on the premises of the airport and one in northern Kerala. The airport now has a total installed capacity of 50MWp, generating 2 lakh units of power a day against the daily power requirement of 1.50 lakh units. The 12 MWp solar plant at Payyannur that was inaugurated in March 2022 has generated approximately 1 crore units of green power till date.
Incidentally, the agro-photovoltaic activities utilising the vacant spaces between solar panels has so far produced approximately 90 metric tonnes of pesticide-free vegetables.
The 4.5MW Arippara Small Hydro Electric Project of CIAL, which was commissioned in November 2021, has also generated approximately 75 lakh units till date.
Social media campaign
CIAL’s announcement on its landmark achievement in green energy production came close on the heels of a media house’s Instagram handle getting mercilessly trolled for describing another airport as the first in the country to run entirely on renewable energy.
Taking note of it, CIAL embarked on a social media campaign on its own with a screaming banner ‘CIAL; simply the first forever.’ The campaign reminded how the airport was endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme as the “world’s first airport fully powered by solar energy” and the United Nations subsequently recognised it with Champions of the Earth award in 2018.