(UR) Kerala, India — India’s seventh largest airport has been running on 100 percent solar power, but you likely haven’t heard about it.
Cochin International Airport in Kerala, India, started as a pilot project in 1999 with just 400 solar panels, as an answer for soaring energy bills. But now, it makes even more energy than it needs to be power-independent — with a 12-megawatt solar power plant that generates an excess of energy using 46,000 solar panels. The project is generating so much electricity that it is now sending energy back into the power grid to be used by 10,000 other homes and businesses. In fact, it has been so successful, Cochin is now the world’s first airport to run entirely on clean, solar energy.
Costing approximately $9.5 million and taking a mere 6 months to build, you could say that a bevy of first-class round trip tickets would pay for similar set-ups in airports around the world. The grid seems to be holding up nicely, too, producing enough energy to also power 10,000 homes besides the airport, itself.
With more than 300 million Indians living in poverty-like conditions and no connection to a power grid, increasing solar power is indeed appealing — especially since most of the country is sunny over 300 days per year. This is perhaps why Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it clear he wants to boost his country’s solar infrastructure with a $100 billion investment for renewable energy.
Sourcing alternatives to fossil fuels is important for everyone, though. If energy derived from solar, wind, or other modalities is not developed and widely adopted before those fossil fuels run out — which could happen as early as 2055 — not many planes will be taking off in Kerala or anywhere else.
The world’s petroleum addiction not only results in Wall Street scams and international wars, but a large majority of plastics and other chemical pollutants we use are also a byproduct of not living greener, choking our environment while other alternatives abound. At least India seems well ahead of the curve.
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