India’s Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), in Kerala (a major hub for international travel), is the first airport in the world to fully operate on solar power, according to a press release on Tuesday.
“We did not want to be identified as just another airport and be confined to it,” VJ Kurian, managing director of CIAL, told Quartz.
The new power plant cost $9.5 million, includes 46,150 solar panel fixtures, and covers an area of 45 acres. Since the wattage from the plant exceeds the airport’s daily needs, and the airport has no way to store it, CIAL has worked out a deal where it sells the extra power in times of excess during the day to the Kerala State Electricity Board, an electricity supplier in Kerala. Then, CIAL buys back the power from the electricity supplier as needed, often at night.
In the announcement, representatives for the airport said that the solar power plant produces enough electricity to supply 10,000 homes for one year. By cutting the use of fossil fuels, the solar power plant will also reduce carbon emissions equivalent to planting 3 million trees.