In a recent article about Hyderabad International Airport, the airport’s CEO, Mr. Sgk Kishore was keen to emphasize the role that its partners have played in its success. Chief among these partners was a German company operating out of Bangalore: Enerparc. Enerparc is an engineering, procurement and construction firm (EPC) that specializes in solar projects. Like Hyderabad international airport, it is quickly developing a name for itself around the world as an innovator in its field.
Enerparc’s work on Hyderabad’s international airport, where it is has installed 5MW of solar power, was just one of a number of projects the firm has taken on in India. India’s Civil Aviation Ministry recently announced a plan to roll out 146MW of solar energy across 143 airports – a highly ambitious undertaking aimed at bringing the country’s airports in line with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. To give some indication of the scale of rollout, Enerparc has already installed 270MW of solar energy at airports globally, since it was founded in Germany in 2008.
Enerparc has already put some of its expertise to work at Delhi International Airport. The solar installation they constructed on the run way side was the first of its kind in the entire Asia Pacific region. As the firm’s first airport project in India, it also delivered a message to the airport authorities all over the country that Enerparc would be the one to turn to when they needed to develop their own solar energy projects. Managing Director of Enerparc Energy, Santosh Khatelsal, said “these projects we have built and are operating are a testimony to our expertise and technical skills in understanding both aviation specific needs and solar expertise.”
Clearly, it was a message that was well received: Since the Delhi project, Private airports as well as Airport Authority of India (AAI) have taken initiatives for installation of solar power plants at airports. Currently AAI has installed cumulative capacity of 5.4MW at 16 airports with a further 24MW to be delivered at 11 more airports by the end of 2016. Notable among these projects, in addition to Hyderabad International Airport, is the airport recently constructed at Cochin, a city on India’s southwest coast. It is Asia’s first fully solar-powered airport with a 12MW capacity and the world’s largest solar energy output for an airport – taking the record previously held by Indianapolis Airport in the US.
Airports are ideal for hosting solar energy grids: the vast tracts of land at many of India’s airports went unused for years but are now being put to much more productive use. The fact that these grids need to be maintained over their lifetime, also gives an opportunity to hundreds of locals to gain employment in the solar energy sector. The next time you’re taking a flight and something glistens below, it may well be the sun reflecting from one of Enerparc’s solar installation. They’re working hard with private as wells as Government airport authorities in India to make that a reality.
For any larger airports approximately twenty percent of their operational cost comes from energy consumption. Hence all the efforts of operating airports are directed towards optimization of energy consumption and exploring possibility to reduce energy cost. With cost of solar energy reaching grid parity it can help airports in cost savings tremendously as airports pay commercial tariffs. Also majority energy load on airports being that of HVAC in day time, which peaks in noon exactly fits the generation profile of solar energy which is generating energy in day time and peaking around noon.
One of the challenges which can arise due to the solar installation at airports, is that of installed solar modules which can reflect incident sun light towards the glide scope of landing and take offs, giving momentary loss of vision to pilots or personnel working at air traffic control (ATC). To ensure safety of everyone involved, glare analysis is carried out to see that the reflection across the year does not hamper pilots or ATC personal. This is achieved by adjusting the solar modules to the correct inclination and orientation – again, something Enerparc has a lot of experience in.
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