Cochin International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Kerala which handles about 10 million passenger movements in and out the state annually, is located at Nedumbassery in the outskirts of Cochin city. With the inauguration of a dedicated solar plant in 2015, Cochin International airport won the title of world’s first fully solar-powered airport. The CIAL solar power project comprises 92,150 solar panels laid across 94 acres, generating 100,000 units of electricity on a daily basis. The airport authority has been honoured with the Champion of Earth award by the United Nations in 2018 for their excellence in the large-scale introduction of sustainable energy sources.

On 17th January 2021, CIAL crossed yet another glorious milestone with the commission of one of the biggest floating solar power plants in Kerala. The cost-effective high-density polyethylene floats, using most modern French technology, are laid over two artificial lakes in the CIAL golf course. The floats consist of 1300 photovoltaic cells and have a capacity of 452 KWh helping the airport to produce around 1.60 lakh units of power a day as against its daily consumption stands around 1.30 lakh units, the authorities said.

CIAL sets an example of Total Sustainability Management by treating the sewage water for water harvesting in its golf course with the help of 12 artificial lakes. The water from these lakes was earlier used for irrigating the lawns but now with the installation of these floating solar panels, they have taken another step forward in sustainable and environment friendly resource management.

The Managing Director of CIAL, Mr V J Kurian said, “The pre-commissioning trials showed that these panels which cost around Rs 2 crore to the company are producing power with maximum output efficiency among the eight solar power plants installed by CIAL at various locations in the airport premises. CIAL has been reinventing itself since its formative days. One of our innovations which proved that relying upon green energy is possible even for the high energy consumers like an airport has won us the champions of the earth award instituted by the United Nations. We are committed to the protection of nature and trying our best to reduce carbon footprints.” 

The installation of floating solar panels are usually very expensive when compared to the ground-mounted and rooftop ones. CIAL was able to overcome these limitations and bring down the cost using the novel technology as the  French company CIEL TERRA provided technical assistance. The solar panels are also connected to the KSEB power grid which helps them to bank the excess energy produced.