Passengers at Leh airport, one of the world’s highest airfields at 10,682-feet above sea level, will soon be basking in the warmth of solar airconditioning. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is going to install solar panels on the roof of the new terminal that will be used to generate about 100kw and use that to heat up water.This heated water-chemical mix will be circulated through coils in air handling units where big fans will be installed. Like a normal AC, the air will get heated after passing through the coils with hot water and help keep the terminal temperature comfortably high in the cold desert capital’s airport.The Rs 5 crore green project is likely to be ready in next two years. “Currently we use electric and diesel-powered boilers. But in winters hydro electricity almost dries up in Kashmir and we face outages. The solar-powered system will help us reduce dependence on conventional power. But a back up will be kept to heat up the liquid to required level for comfortable heating,” said an official.
The AAI is also going to store energy by having batteries charged with the solar power and use them at night. The cycle of charging-using-recharging is expected to lead to some insulation from frequent power cuts.
Apart from Leh, AAI is also aiming to generate 250kw at its headquarters (Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan) in Delhi. “We plan to use this energy for our lighting and some power load (except ACs) like running computers. There are two options. We can either use the power or supply it to the grid,” said the official. The Delhi project is expected to cost Rs 4-4.5 crore and be ready by next April.
In fact, all new airports are aiming to get a green tag through energy efficient designs. Wherever permitted, like Delhi, the new airports are undertaking rain water harvesting, water recycling along with energy saving techniques. “Being world class does not mean just having a fancy glass-and-steel structure. We have to aim at being sustainable,” said a senior AAI official.
And while on renewable energy in airports, here are some useful links on energy efficiency possibilities and potential in hotels, warehouses, airports, sports stadiums, hospitals and even prisons.