Bhairahawa airport’s plan to go solar is feasible, say officials

KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) – A team of energy and aviation officials who visited Malaysia to study the solar power system at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last month concluded that the plan to make Bhairahawa airport a fully solar-powered airport was technically viable.

The solar plan has also set off an argument between the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and the Nepal Electricity Authority over sharing the income generated from the solar power. Authorities plan to install solar panels to produce around 10 megawatts.

“Our study has shown that installing a solar farm on the airport premises will not pose a risk to flight safety, handling and communications equipment,” said Chief of the Project Management Directorate of the Nepal Electricity Authority Manoj Silwal.

The solar project that is expected to receive a Rs1 billion grant from the Asian Development Bank will be spread over 52 bighas of land.

Gautam Buddha International Airport is expected to be completed in December with test flights planned for March next year.

Once fully solar-powered, the entire airport operation — from air traffic control, baggage claim and runway lights to ground control rooms and passenger terminals — will run on solar energy. PHOTO: THE KATHMANDU POST/ANN

The team studied the solar project at Kuala Lumpur International Airport powered by a 19-megawatt direct current system installed in 2014. Solar panels with anti-glare features have been mounted on the roof and on the ground at the facility. Anti-glare technology is used to prevent light pollution at airports, military facilities and ground-mounted solar plants adjacent to high rises. This is done by coating an anti-reflective film on the glass of photovoltaic solar panels.

Once fully solar-powered, the entire airport operation—from air traffic control, baggage claim and runway lights to ground control rooms and passenger terminals—will run on solar energy.

Chief of the Airport Project Prabesh Adhikari said they were discussing the revenue sharing modality. “As the solar project will cover a large part of the airport’s land and be funded by a grant, we have been negotiating the revenue sharing modality.”

Utilising airport space to install solar panels will allow electricity to be generated at the point of consumption, eliminating energy bills and the need for expensive

transmission lines and supporting infrastructure.

According to officials, as the airport will not consume all of the power generated by the solar panels, the leftover energy will be fed into the national grid.