If you thought that globetrotting solar-powered airplane was impressive, wait until you see the solar airport that India just finished building. After a great deal of development and construction, the country’s Cochin International Airport in the southern state of Kerala is now officially the world’s first airport thats runs exclusively on solar power.
The facility is now reportedly “absolutely power neutral” — meaning it creates just as much energy as it consumes. That’s a pretty impressive feat when you consider that Cochin International is one of the biggest airports in India, with over 1,500,000 square feet of terminal space alone.
To generate enough juice to run the facility, the airport had to build its own 12 MWp solar power plant onsite, which is comprised of more than 46,000 solar panels splayed across 45 acres of land. This array is expected to produce somewhere around “50,000 to 60,000 units of electricity each day” — which, on a good day, is just over what the airport consumes during its normal operational functions.
Obviously, construction of this new solar array didn’t happen overnight. Cochin began transitioning itself to renewable energy back in 2013 by installing a small solar panel array on the rooftops of its terminals. As it expanded the arrays over the next couple years, it relied on a mixture of solar power and grid power, and now that the buildout is complete, it’s 100 percent solar. It’s worth noting, however, that Cochin is still connected to the grid — just in case the normally sun-drenched area gets a streak of overcast days.
Exact stats on the environmental impact the airport will have are hard to come by, but analysts expect the solar power array to cut somewhere around 300,000 tons worth of carbon emissions in India over the next 25 years.