Cochin International Airport - The World's First Solar Powered Airport

Cochin International Airport: The World’s First Solar Powered Airport

Have you ever thought of an airport running entirely on solar power? It seems like a dream, but it’s true.

In India, there is an airport that has become a model of sustainable energy usage. This place is none other than Cochin International Airport, situated in the beautiful southern state of Kerala.

The Journey Of Cochin International Airport

The transformation of Cochin International Airport into a sustainable energy consumption is a remarkable journey that commenced with its maiden solar project in 2013. The strategic shift towards renewable energy reflected the airport’s commitment to cost-effectiveness and sustainable development.

After recognizing the hefty electricity demands required for the airport, the visionary leaders at Cochin International Airport took on the challenge of reducing dependence on conventional sources. This commitment saw the airport emerge as the first-ever airport in the world to be entirely powered by solar energy in 2015, just two years after the inception of its solar project.

The creation of this project shook the world on a global scale, as it proved that high-energy demanding institutions could turn towards greener solutions. The project was met with such acclaim that it triggered many other airports across the globe to consider solar power as a viable alternative.

Today, the airport stands tall, with eight solar power plants nearby. It has a cumulative capacity of a whopping 40 MW, indicating the sheer scale of its commitment to using renewable resources. This journey of Cochin International Airport from a conventional airport to an embodiment of green energy is a narrative of innovation, ambition, and sustainability.

Sustainability At Cochin International Airport

The airport’s commitment to green energy doesn’t stop with solar power. The airport also explores other forms of renewable energy like hydropower. In November 2021, the airport ventured into hydropower by commissioning the 4.5 MW Arippara power plant. This run-of-the-river project has no adverse effect on the environment.

Cochin International Airport’s Solar Power System

The airport’s solar power plant has 46,150 solar panels spread over 45 acres near the cargo complex. This massive setup produces 50,000 to 60,000 units of electricity per day. With this much power, the airport can perform all its operational functions, making it power neutral. The airport now operates on eight solar plants with a combined capacity of 40 MW.

Cochin International Airport's Solar Power System
Cochin International Airport’s Solar Power System

Innovative Green Energy Practices

Cochin International Airport is a leader in using innovative green energy practices. The airport installed a 12.5 MW solar plant in Payyanur, near Kannur District, in February 2022. The plant uses a unique terrain-based installation concept. This method increases land usage by decreasing the space between solar module arrays.

In July 2021, the airport started using agri-voltaic practices. These involve growing crops like yam, long-yard beans, drumstick, mountain ginger, turmeric, cabbage, cauliflower, and green chilli underneath the solar panels. This method not only increases the power generation efficiency of the solar panels but also prevents soil erosion and weeds growth.

Floating Solar Plants

Another significant milestone in Cochin International Airport’s journey towards sustainability is its floating solar plants. The airport has used cost-effective high-density polyethylene floats to install photovoltaic panels on two artificial lakes in the 130-acre golf course. These floating power plants have a total installed capacity of 416 Kv.

The Impact

The airport’s green initiatives have had a significant impact. In the financial year 2020-21, the airport produced 25 crore units of energy, offsetting 1,60,000 metric tons of carbon emissions. These achievements have placed Cochin International Airport at the forefront of sustainable development.

Closing Thoughts

Cochin International Airport symbolizes sustainability and is a hope for the future. By taking responsibility and venturing into green energy projects, the airport has shown the world that it is possible for even high-energy consumers like airports to reduce their carbon footprints and become self-sufficient with solar power. It shows us that creative thinking can solve complex problems and create the future we dream of.

Cochin International Airport is leading the charge in showing how airports – and indeed all large establishments – can benefit from embracing renewable energy. Its pioneering work in becoming the world’s first fully solar-powered airport is an achievement that will continue to inspire many other institutions around the world.


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