Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) has been selected for the Champion of Earth Prize - 2018, the highest environmental award instituted by the United Nations, for being fully powered by solar energy.

A communiqué signed by Erik Solheim, UN Global Chief of Environment, and Executive Director, UNEP, sent to VJ Kurian, Managing Director, CIAL, stated: “This is the United Nations’ highest environmental accolade and reflects your leadership in the use of sustainable energy. As the world’s first fully solar-powered airport, you set an ambitious example that we hope many others will follow.” The award will be presented on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York on September 26. CIAL became power neutral in August 2015 with the commissioning of its 12 MWp solar power plant. It scaled up the installed capacity to 30 MWp by April 2018.

“We showed the world that big infrastructure projects like airports can operatefully using alternative energy sources. By September, the solar capacity will be increased to 40 MWp, with a power potential of 60 million units a year and resulting in a cost saving of approximately ₹40 crore a year to the airport,” Kurien said.

“This will also avoid CO2 emissions by more than nine lakh tonnes over the next 25 years, which is equivalent to planting 90 lakh trees or not driving 2,400 million miles,” he added.