The Cochin International Airport in Kerala, the first fully solar-powered airport in the world, has been chosen for the prestigious Champion of Earth Prize – 2018 instituted by the United Nations (UN). Erik Solheim, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), had visited the airport located on the fringes of Kochi recently lauding its achievements in renewable energy conservation and the vegetable cultivation in the solar park.
Solheim, in a communique to VJ Kurien, managing director, Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), said ‘previous Champion laureates range from world leaders to inspiring scientists – all visionaries who drive the world closer to its aspiration of environmental sustainability and a life of dignity for all.’
The Champion of Earth Prize is considered the UN’s highest environmental accolade.
A massive solar plant, adjoining the airport’s cargo complex, produces 50,000 to 60,000 units of electricity every day taking care of its energy needs. Former CM Oommen Chandy had inaugurated the 12MWp plant in August, 2015 comprising of 46,150 solar panels across 45 acres. Excess electricity is routed into the grid of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB)
The airport, the first to be built in India under the public-private-partnership model, had logged 10 million passengers in the last financial year. It currently operates 25 airlines to several domestic and international destinations. In FY 2017-18, it had witnessed a 22% increase in domestic passenger volume and 4% increase in foreign passenger arrivals compared to the previous financial year.