When taking a flight into or out of Cochin International Airport in Kochi, India, you probably wouldn’t notice anything special or out-of-the-ordinary. Despite being the 7th busiest airport in the country, Cochin isn’t exactly remarkable at first sight.
But unaware to the untrained eye, Cochin International Airport is actually quite a trendsetter, at least in terms of renewable energy; Cochin is the world’s first completely solar-powered airport, emitting zero fossil fuels.
Completely green since this past August, Cochin’s energy needs are met by a solar power plant comprised of 46,150 solar panels, all of which are laid out in a nearby cargo complex stretching 45 acres.
The power plant it capable of generating 50,000 to 60,000 units of electricity every single day, ensuring the airport doesn’t need to rely on any other forms of energy.
But despite the obvious environmental benefits of having an airport run completely on renewable energy, the plan to switch Cochin to solar energy actually began due to economic concerns.
In short, the airport’s operators wanted to cut down on their electricity bill (which had gotten to be pretty pricey) and so three years ago, they installed their first batch of solar panels.
First they attached panels onto the arrival terminal, then onto nearby hangars, and after realizing the benefits of solar power, they took the initiative to create the solar plan currently in use.
Overall, the solar power plant cost the airport $9.3 million (or 620 million rupees) and was built by Bosch, a German engineering and electronics company. But despite the hefty price tag for the solar plant, Cochin’s managers foresee monetary savings in the next six years since they are completely off the electricity grid and no longer need to pay energy bills.
By switching over to solar power, the airport will also negate the release of over 300,000 metric tons of carbon emissions (a byproduct of coal power) in the next 25 years.
Perhaps best of all, though, is how Cochin’s solar power concept is catching on and inspiring other airports to do the same. Several airports in India are already finding ways to integrate similar solar powered setups, such as Kolkata’s international airport, notes CNNMoney.
And Cochin is only looking forward, with plans already in the works to install another (albeit smaller) solar plant. Hopefully both Cochin’s energy model and enthusiasm will catch on throughout the world, with solar powered airports becoming the norm rather than the exception.
Featured image courtesy of: Cochin International Airport