Airports in Malaysia, India embrace solar

Airports in Malaysia and India have installed large-scale solar arrays in an effort to cut energy costs, promote clean energy and reduce their carbon footprints.

SunEdison has completed a 19 MW installation — the largest in Malaysia as of interconnection — Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad, managing director of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, which operates and manages Malaysia’s 39 airports, said, "Malaysia has an ideal climate for solar power and therefore we are taking steps to generate clean energy which will be beneficial to everyone in Malaysia. We are working with SunEdison to ensure our efforts produce the results we expect."

The solar power installation is also expected to save the airport some MYR 2.1 million (US$627,000) annually based on current energy costs.

For SunEdison, the project was a chance to expand operations in Southeast Asia. "This project reflects SunEdison’s ability to drive growth through unique development opportunities,” said Pashupathy Gopalan, SunEdison president for Asia, the Middle East, South Africa and Australia. "In working with Malaysia Airports we were able to help them make money from an under-utilized asset they already had — these spaces can now be harnessed to generate clean energy."

The SunEdison Renewable Operation Center will provide 24/7 solar system management and monitoring services for the installation.

"Projects like this reflect our focus on growing the industry and SunEdison, and with the excellent feed-in tariff program in Malaysia we look forward to helping additional airports in Malaysia — and around the world — use solar to save money," Gopalan added.

SunEdison said it faced a significant challenge — generating the maximum return on investment for Malaysia Airports while working with the limited space available in the airport. The solution, the company added, was to install ground-mounted, parking canopy and roof-top systems on airport land that was not suitable for other revenue-generating activity.

"Parking canopies combine the benefits of covered parking with the economic benefit of generating electricity at an economical and predictable price. Utilizing airport roof-top space and the land surrounding the airport allows electricity to be generated at the point of consumption, removing the need for costly transmission lines," it added.

"Rooftops, parking lots and ‘buffer’ areas at airports are traditionally not multi-purpose facilities, but we’ve turned them into a clean energy generation facility," said Tan Sri Bashir. "This initiative also demonstrates our support towards the government’s initiative in introducing renewable energy and also to further reduce carbon footprint."

In India, Delhi International Airport selected Canadian Solar as the sole PV module supplier for a 2.1 MW solar power plant.

Canadian Solar Chairman and CEO Shawn Qu described the installation at Delhi International as a "landmark solar power project" that "is so far the largest airport solar project in India."

The Delhi project is another example of the company’s success in expanding its operations in “rapidly growing emerging markets, as we successfully execute on our market diversification strategy," Qu added.

Canadian Solar said Delhi International selected its PV modules due to their level of quality, “the excellent in-field performance track record in India and the company’s prior experience supplying modules to airport site solar power plants."

Canadian Solar supplied its 60 cell high efficiency CS6P245P modules with power output of 245Wp for this project.

Construction of the Delhi International project took place between October and December.