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The World’s First Fully Solar-Powered Airport: It’s Already Here!

Back in April, we theorized about what solar powered planes would look like in fifteen years. We showed you an example called the Progress Eagle, a jumbo jet liner that runs completely on solar energy. And let’s not forget Solar Impulse 2 making its historic flight around the world with no fuel.

But now the question becomes, where are we going to put these solar powered planes? Can we outfit existing airports and airplanes to thrive on a new energy source like solar power? Well, it turns out the answer has been here the whole time. Because the world’s first airport run entirely on solar power already exists!

The Cochin International Airport in the southern Indian state of Kerala can now boast that it is “absolutely power neutral” after unveiling a new renewable-energy system that makes it the world’s first fully solar-powered airport. Cochin will be powered by a 12 MWp (megawatt peak) solar power plant near the cargo complex of the airport that is made up of 46,150 solar panels laid across a staggering 45 acres. Here’s what it looks likefrom the air. reports that parent company Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) began transitioning to solar power back in March of 2013. It began with a 100 kWp (kilowatt peak) solar plant on the roof of the airport’s arrival terminal, but that model couldn’t store any excess energy in batteries. So they installed a 1 MWp solar power plant split between the roof-top and the ground of the Aircraft Maintenance Hangar. That’s when the success started.

These tried and tested solar power plants have already saved more than 550 tons of CO2 emissions, CIAL reported in a press release. Over the next 25 years, this landmark project is expected to save carbon emissions of 300,000 tons—the equivalent of planting 3 million trees!

And the benefits don’t stop there. Because the Indian government has initiatives in place to spur alternative energy growth, Cochin is expected to become the first of many citiesin the country housing airports that will incorporate solar energy for their daily power needs. CIAL is already looking at ways to incorporate Kerala’s many bodies of water into their power grid, too. Solar panels in dam installations and other hydroelectric projects are marked as possibilities.

It’s clear now that innovation in power is going to change the world we live in very soon. Already we’re seeing the effects—and feeling the savings!—of solar power, and it sounds like a good start to combating the effects of global warming. Fifty years down the line, airports and cities themselves are going to take power to a whole new level.

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