KOCHI: After achieving the status of the world’s first airport fully powered by solar energy, Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) has ventured into hydropower production. CIAL’s first hydropower plant, constructed at Arippara near Kozhikode, will be commissioned by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on November 6. CIAL estimates an annual power generation of 14 million units through the plant. The power will be fed to the KSEB grid from November first week.
The 4.5 MWp run off the river small hydro project (SHP) was awarded to CIAL by the Power Department, Government of Kerala, as per the Kerala Small Hydropower policy under Built-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) for a lease period of 30 years. CIAL started the construction of a weir across the Iruvazhinji river and hydro-mechanical and electro-mechanical systems at Arippara, near Kodenchery in Kozhikode.
Even after being affected by the pandemic, CIAL completed the project in September 2021 and the trial run began in October. CIAL bought five acres of land from 32 residents. The project cost is `52 crore. The powerhouse will generate around 1.08 lakh units of power a day during peak flow days. It is estimated that the plant could be operational in full capacity for 130 days in a year.
Annual power generation is estimated at 14 million units. “Arippara hydroelectric project by CIAL is considered as biggest project after achieving power neutrality of the airport in 2015,” said S Suhas, managing director, CIAL.
“When the country is deliberating on a power crisis, it is the leadership and guidance of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as the chairman of CIAL which turned out to be decisive to speed up the project implementation. We are sure that, this will impart further momentum to set up such hydro projects across the state which has 44 rivers and numerous streams,” said Suhas. He said the potential of renewable energy is immense. “If we use our technological imagination, we can be more productive and more efficient in the ways we use energy, and we can create a better future,’’ added Suhas.
Being a run of the river project, CIAL’s small hydropower project at Arippara works on limited storage of water causing no adverse effect on the environment. The scheme envisages the construction of an overflow type weir across the river, which diverts the water to an intake pool from where the intake structure and connected water conductor system (WCS) start. “A surge tank was constructed to moderate the water flow during load acceptance and load rejection time. A penstock feeds two machines each of 2.25 MW capacity. A powerhouse, with horizontal turbines, is installed at the right bank of the river with an installed capacity of 4.5MW,” said Suhas.
Being a project with the majority of civil work to be done along the river banks, the work was severely affected during the two devastating floods of 2018 and 2019. “A lot of additional precautions had to be taken by modifying the designs and also by introducing additional retaining structures to ensure safe working condition for labourers,” the CIAL managing director said.