Vikram Solar has commissioned solar projects at three airports for the Airports Authority of India. The solar projects have been installed at Dibrugarh in Assam, Gaya in Bihar, and Gondia in Maharashtra. Together, these three projects have a cumulative capacity of 1,165 kW. The solar project at the Dibrugarh airport will be of 725 kW capacity and is expected to generate over 10 million kWh annually, while the ones at the Gondia and Gaya will support a capacity of 220 kW and each of them will generate 300,000 kWh annually.
The aviation industry is carbon intensive and heavily dependent on oil and gas for flight operations. This is taking a toll on the environment. Thus, the industry is facing increasing pressure from environmentalists to clean up their emissions. Airplanes are not solely responsible for the industry’s carbon footprint; airports too have an equal role to play. As airports expand, more energy is required to power new terminals and ground transport vehicles leaving a negative impact on the environment. To address this problem, many airports across the world are incorporating greener elements into their design and operation strategies. They are also implementing eco-friendly initiatives such as recycling and reuse, water harvesting, and limiting plastic use. In the energy space, a shift from conventional to solar energy has emerged as a popular trend.
Airports have a significant potential for solar power generation given the availability of large, flat and shadow-free areas such as rooftops of terminals, hangars, car parks and land around runways. The solar power generated on airport premises can help meet the growing power requirements of terminals. This will reduce the electricity bills of airports, especially through net metering. Moreover, the increase in air-conditioning load coincides with the peak generation during summer months, compensating for the surge in power demand. With solar power, airports can reduce their carbon footprint and contribute towards the achievement of the country’s clean energy targets. A short gestation period, limited infrastructure requirement and a payback period of only four to five years are some of the other factors that make a strong case for solar power generation at airports.