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Aerial view of the solar park at Cochin International Airport. This is the world’s first such facility to run exclusively on solar power.
Aerial view of the solar park at Cochin International Airport. This is the world’s first such facility to run exclusively on solar power.

Eye on solar power projects, ISA to showcase Cochin airport

The airport will be showcased to around 50 CEOs of global airports and aviation authorities at ISA meet on 16 Dec

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) plans to showcase Kerala’s Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL), the world’s first such facility to run exclusively on solar power, this month to global airport companies and civil aviation authorities to promote solar energy. This in turn may help state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) land deals in ISA member countries.

ISA, which has become a significant foreign policy tool, hopes to persuade airports around the world to follow Kochi’s example and go solar. It is helping state-run NTPC Ltd secure solar projects in 47 least developed and small island nations and was appointed the nodal agency for implementing India’s global electricity grid plan.

Also read: India can’t make up its mind on PSUs, 30 years after liberalisation

India has been trying to bag solar power contracts in ISA member-countries against the backdrop of China’s Belt and Road initiative.

Around 50 chief executives of international airports and global aviation authorities, including senior representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN body promoting cooperation among its 193 member-nations, are expected to attend ISA’s SunMeet to be held on 16 December.

“The objective of this workshop is to spread awareness among ISA member- countries of the benefits of solarization of airports and encourage them to go solar," said ISA director general Upendra Tripathy.

With clean energy projects comprising more than a fifth of its installed power capacity, India has been leveraging its solar energy credentials to build solar projects overseas. As many as 88 countries have signed the ISA framework agreement, while 70 ratified it.

The meeting is also expected to be attended by New Delhi-based envoys of ISA member countries, with a likely declaration calling for airports to go solar.

Under its ‘Coalition for Sustainable Climate Action’ (ISA-CSCA) initiative, ISA enables strategic partnerships between investors and policymakers in member- countries to promote the role of public and private sector financing in sustainable development.

AAI intends to actively contribute to efforts to accelerate solar deployment in ISA countries. The state-run body plans to develop airports in foreign countries, especially in India’s neighbourhood, and has already entered into agreements for preparing project reports for developing airports at Kalay in Myanmar and Palaly in Sri Lanka.

India and France have front-ended attempts to set up ISA, with France terming it as a “political project". Its efforts have helped project India’s presence among its members.

A case in point is the state-run Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOCL) being roped in to aggregate the petroleum fuel demand of small island countries, thus bringing down their fuel import costs and helping with their energy security efforts.

ISA is also working on helping around 500 hospitals across 47 least developed countries and small island nation run on solar electricity, in what may help provide a shot in the arm for India’s “vaccine diplomacy". Having 24x7 electricity supply is important for powering cold storages, which will store the coronavirus vaccine, and running computers for inventory management and ventilators in the remote areas of these countries.

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