Airport turns greener with 2MW solar plant

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The Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport became the first airport in the country to get a 2MW rooftop solar power plant. Apart from earning carbon credit for the airport, it would translate into a monetary benefit worth Rs 2.15 crore per year.

Encouraged by the results of this maiden effort, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) is adding 15MW through ground solar plants, which would accrue benefits worth Rs 40 crore. The airport currently spends Rs 18 crore to meet electricity expenses a year.

The tender deadline for this 15MW project has been extended by a week since there were only two bidders. “The work will start on 50 acres on the eastern side of the airport. The AAI will invest around Rs 107-110 crore. It would include build, operation and long-term maintenance. By April, we are expecting to commission 7-8MW of the plant,” said Kolkata airport director A K Sharma.

Commissioned by Vikram Solar, a city-based leading solar energy solutions provider, the 2MW power plant cost AAI Rs 12 crore, which includes annual maintenance for two years.This power plant was com missioned in 15 days at the old airport building. The solar panels could not be fixed on the new integrated terminal building as there is a warranty clause, which has one more year to expire. If the rooftop of the integrated terminal building could be used, the solar panel could be built across an area that is six times of 50,000 sq m covered by the panels.

However, AAI sources said that they would wait for technological solution of laying insulated sheet on the new integrated terminal roof, which is made up of aluminum sheet. Otherwise, any perforation on the roof would lead to leakage. “The other major benefit is roof top solar panel reduces the load of air-conditioner and the transmission loss is zero,” said Vikram Solar managing director and CEO Gyanesh Chaudhary.

According to Chaudhary, indirect taxation in Bengal was depriving the solar energy industry of a levelplaying field. As many as 18 states have done away with indirect taxations like CST and VAT. This makes importing solar plants from outside a profitable proposition. “We have already raised the issue with the state government. We hope that there will be major encouragement for green power sector in the next state budget,” he added.

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