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Not enough land for solar projects? Set them up inside airports

According to reports, one of the problems often cited by solar power developers in executing a large project, is availability of land. But here is one easy option: Airports.

Think of solar panels in the vast spaces that surround runways, you instinctively feel that it is not a good idea. Would the light reflecting off the panels affect landings?

But apparently, it is a done thing. A German company called Enerparc, a specialist in putting up solar projects in airports, has done over 240 MW of solar installations in active airports. “The largest solar plant we have installed is in the Neuhardenberg airport (picture), which is a 70 MW plant,” Stefan Mueller, Chief Operating Officer, Enerparc, told Business Line.

All it takes is a ‘glare analysis’ to find out where the panels should not be put up.

Enerparc, now getting active in India, has mooted the idea of solar projects at airports. India has 136 airports. Some of these are spread over vast pieces of land. For example, the Hyderabad international airport is spread over 5,400 acres. Chennai sits on over 4,000 acres.

There are huge tracts of (unused) land within these airports where it is okay to put up solar plants. Further, there is scope for solar installations on roofs.

“Hyderabad airport can easily have 25 MW,” says Santosh Khatelsal, Managing Director, Enerparc Energy Pvt Ltd, the recently-incorporated Indian arm of the German company. Rooftops, of course, are easily doable, he says.

When contacted by Business Line, V. Somasundaram, Member (ANS), Airports Authority of India, said that he had not come across any proposal for putting up solar plants in airports, but would be happy to look into it. Another official of a group that operates a large airport also said that he could not comment offhand, but was open to the idea.

Enerparc’s India operations are based out of Bangalore. Apart from airports, Enerparc is also interested in offering EPC and EPC-Management services. “Enerparc will also have some development interests of its own in the Indian market,” says Santosh.

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