CIAL's Green Strides Continue
Kochi: In yet another green initiative, the authorities of Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) will soon provide passengers with a bag of organically-cultivated fresh vegetables from specially arranged outlets.
The airport authorities have decided to commercially cultivate organic vegetables in the vacant space between the photovoltaic panels of the solar plant at the airport which helped it earn the distinction of being the first solar-powered airport in the world. The 12-MWp solar power plant comprising 46,150 solar panels is spread across 45 acres near the airport. The airport authorities are also planning to extend the organic vegetable cultivation to other vacant land holdings of the airport in a phased manner.
The officials have experimentally cultivated selected vegetables like pumpkin, ash gourd, ladies finger, cucumber and various varieties of cowpea in the space between photovoltaic panels laid on a three-acre area near the solar power plant and reaped rich harvest by making use of natural sunlight and without using inorganic fertilizers and pesticides.
Around 30,000 air passengers utilise the airport daily, and in the initial stage, the vegetables will be made available to these passengers only. However, CIAL has plans to launch a brand in the name of ‘CIAL Organic’ and sell the vegetables through selected outlets in the malls and supermarkets in Kochi city, said CIAL authorities.
According to experts, photovoltaic solar farms are run by making use of the abundant sunlight in a particular area. However, water is required to remove dust and dirt accumulated on the panels in order to ensure optimum efficiency of these panels. Similarly, water is also required to dampen the ground to prevent the buildup and spread of dust. So, crops can be raised effectively just beneath the solar panels by making use of the runoff water used for cleaning the PV panels.
CIAL managing director V J KurienIAS said this is the first time that such an innovative idea of using a solar power station for power generation as well as organic vegetable cultivation is being implemented. ‘’The aim of CIAL is to become the first comprehensive green airport in the country. The organic farming project is aimed at this direction and we would also join hands with premier agriculture research institutions to achieve this goal,” he said.
After the commissioning of new solar power station at the airport on August 18 last year, CIAL could generate 1.01 crore units of solar energy, saving around Rs. 7 crore in electricity expenditure, which also reduced 6,756 tonnes of Carbon dioxide emission, according to CIAL officials.