Cochin Airport Expands Agrivoltaic Farming to 20 acres in its Solar Farm

Highlights :

  • Agricultural photovoltaic (Agri-PV), also known as agri-voltaic or agri-photovoltaic, is an evolving practice in sustainable development that combines the production of food and energy.
  • The land is used for both agriculture and solar power generation at the same time.

The Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) has scaled up its agrivoltaic farming to 20 acres. Agricultural photovoltaic (Agri-PV), also known as agrivoltaic or agri-photovoltaic, is an evolving practice in sustainable development that combines the production of food and energy. The land is used for both agriculture and solar power generation at the same time. ‘Experiments’ in this area of the kind CIAL is trying out are particularly vital to add to the overall ground based feedback on possibilities, considering the challenge ahead for India to meets its renewable energy goals.

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CIAL, which is also the the world’s first airport to be fully powered by solar energy, claimed that its agri-voltaic farming project is the largest of its kind in the country. CIAL had earlier experimented organic farming on one of its solar plants on the premises of the airport. It started the process of scaling up the farming practice by incorporating the modern method of agri-voltaic procedure in July 2021. CIAL was able to cover agri-voltaic farming on a total area of 20 acres by December first week.

“CIAL has eight solar plants on the premises of the airport. The biggest one; near the cargo terminal has an area of 45 acres; of which 20 acres has been used for agri-voltaic practice. The authorities cultivated vegetables like yam, long yard bean, drumstick, mountain ginger, turmeric, cabbage, cauliflower and green chilli. Water used to clean solar photovoltaic panels is being used for irrigating the cultivation. These crops are expected to modify the micro- climates underneath PV modules by reducing the temperature which results in increasing efficiency in power generation,” said a CIAL statement. The use of vegetables and smaller plants on the land is interesting, as staples like Rice, wheat etc are not really amenable to agrivoltaic.

Cochin International Airport Managing Director S Suhas said that agrivoltaic practice is an opportunity for both the solar and agricultural sectors. “Optimum usage of available land and reusage of water are other advantages here,” he said.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) recently released a new report, titled “Agrivoltaics in India: Fertile Ground?”, which points out that Agrivoltaics could soon become an important renewable energy sector in India. The study outlines three major national challenges that Agrivoltaics could address: accelerating the renewable energy roll-out by distributing it throughout the country at various scales; relieving the pressure of renewable energy facilities on sensitive lands and ecosystems; and contributing to a stronger and more diverse rural economy.

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