Solar power is a viable alternative to conventional power sources and it’s gradually gaining popularity in the mass market. In some countries, governments are even providing grants to make the switching costs lower for people willing to hook up their homes and businesses to solar power. You’d think that a sensitive installation like an airport wouldn’t completely go solar, but you’d be wrong because this airport has.

The Cochin International Airport in India is now powered by nothing but solar power. It installed a solar power system with a 12-megawatt peak capacity to aid its previously installed 1.1-megawatt peak capacity. The system now generates enough power to run the entire airport.

The system was installed at a cost of $9.3 million and was set up on a 45-acre piece of unused land near the airport. It can’t run off the system at night but it doesn’t have to pay for electricity taken from the grid at night because during the day its 46,000 solar panels provide all excess power to the grid.

The initial investment was a substantial one but the airport estimates that it will recoup the investment in less than six years. It’s also planning to double its solar capacity to 26.50-megawatt peak.

Whether this system can prove to be useful elsewhere is an entirely different debate. You’d need a whole lot of land and solar panels to power an airport like the one in Dubai, Hong Kong, London, New York, you get the idea. Cochin’s airport is only the seventh busiest in India but it goes to show that relatively smaller airports can become self-sufficient when it comes to generating power.

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