We have heard how airlines are taking strides to reduce the impact of air travel on the environment and more specifically climate change. Many airlines, including Turkish Airlines, Air New Zealand, British Airways, and Qantas, are taking the effort to use SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) in order to reduce their carbon footprint. However, now we are seeing airports making the effort to reduce their effect on the environment.
India’s airport in Delhi (India’s capital) is now operating exclusively on renewable forms of energy. According to the aviation website Simple Flying, Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) has become the first in the country to rely on hydroelectric and solar power completely. Delhi’s airport, IGI follows Cochin airport in southern India, which relies entirely on solar power for its operations. Located in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Cochin was the first airport in the world to run completely on solar power, as stated in the BBC. Now with Delhi also relying on renewables, this is a huge achievement for India.
Delhi’s Airport Operator
Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), Delhi’s airport operator, has said that moving to renewable sources for its energy needs is expected to indirectly reduce 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year. The airport has been pushing ahead with environmentally friendly reforms for sometime, gradually distancing itself from more polluting traditional methods of operations and setting up targets for a zero-emissions future. At the moment, IGI is sourcing around 6% of its electricity requirement from onsite solar power plants and the remaining 94% from hydroelectric power plants.
For hydroelectric power DIAL has signed a contract known as a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with a hydroelectric power producing company in Himachal Pradesh (a northern state in India) to supply hydroelectricity for the airport until 2036. With regards to solar power, DIAL has also installed a 7.84 MW solar power plant on the airside areas where space is available. In addition, after collaborating with relevant stakeholders (those who have an interest in or may be affected by any changes made), operators of the cargo terminals at the airport have added another 5.3 MW rooftop solar power plant.
DIAL CEO Videh Kumar Jaipuriar commented that the airport operator has been working very hard to reduce the airport’s greenhouse emissions and has been aiming to get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, ahead of the global target of 2050. In addition to the use of renewables, the airport has been taking other initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint. This includes, for example, being the first in the country in 2020 to be free of using single-use plastics. This also includes the use of Taxibot, a system whereby planes move away from the departure gate without the use of their engines. According to Simple Flying, IGI is the first airport where 1000 planes have used this system.
Overall, Delhi’s airport is now ranked more positively; it was recently ranked 37th in Skytrax aviation firm’s World Airport Awards 2022, moving up from 45th position last year. The airport was also judged as the best and the cleanest airport in India.
On the whole therefore one can see that India is making impressive strides towards cleaner energy and further development. This is a tremendous achievement for this developing economy and even with the difficulties it faces, it is still pursuing the same goals as the developed world in terms of climate change. Overall, therefore, a positive story for this country.