KOCHI: Can an airport become a big power producer too? If things progress as planned, Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) will emerge as the second largest power producer in the state after Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), in three years. CIAL, which has many firsts in its cap, such as being the pioneer in PPP model in building an airport and becoming the first solar-powered airport in the world, is eyeing to become the second largest power producer in the state in three years, says its managing director V J Kurien. In an interview to Express, he said the airport company, which has an installation capacity of generating around 30 MW solar power in its vicinity, is expected to generate 100 MW energy in three years.
All the hurdles for setting up the hydel power projects, having a total capacity of 62 MW, have almost been cleared.These include hydro electrical projects at Kakkadam Poyil, having a capacity of 21 MW, a 3 MW unit at Arippara in Kozhikode, a 10 MW unit at Kaithakkolli in Wayanad, 2 MW in Kazhuthuruthi in Kollam, 2.2 MW in Urumbini near Kakkad in Pathanamthitta, 2.61 MW in Thoniyar in Idukki, 1 MW in Thooval in Idukki and 2 MW in Kokkamullu in Kozhikode.
“Once the projects come on stream, we will become the second largest power producer in the state,” Kurien said.The highlight of the airport company is generation of power by reducing cost as low as possible. For instance, CIAL has completed a 6 MW solar power project over a canal named ‘Chengal Thodu’, which originates from the Periyar and touches down on the same river after flowing through three panchayats and the airport. Structural engineer and Chennai IIT professor P K Aravind, who supervised the project, replaced the steel structure of the project with RCC (reinforced cement concrete), which has cut down the cost significantly.
To compare the cost for 1 MW solar power some years ago, Gujarat had to spend around Rs 17 crore, and Rs 10 crore for another project in Surat, whereas CIAL could complete the latest project at just Rs 5.2 crore for generating I MW solar power. The hydel power project sites can also be used for generating solar power by bringing some changes in their design, said Kurien.
Within 5-10 years, the automotive sector will also witness some sweeping changes with the introduction of electric cars. CIAL has also arranged a facility to charge electric cars like Tesla in its newly-built 2.25 lakh sq ft-long solar carport, a first of its kind initiative in the country. The carport will accommodate 14,000 cars at a time, he said. Around 8,500 solar panels laid on the top of the carport have an institutional capacity of generating 2.7 MW solar power. So the airport company is giving emphasis to not only moving into clean energy in a big way but also keeping abreast of the times by providing recharging facilities to electric cars, Kurien said.
Solar fields in north Kerala
CIAL is also exploring the possibility of buying barren lands in north Kerala and converting them into solar fields. “This is a plan in the initial stage. Our idea is to generate solar power from such idle lands, and generate power. We can provide recharge facilities for electric car users from these areas,” he said.