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On airports and electric vehicles.

Before we even start, let me digress a little. I think there are two kinds of passengers at the airport - either you stand in line at the boarding counter of the gate or you don't, either you stand up as soon as the flight stops or you happily wait for the rest to deplane.

Using electric vehicles in the airport, for official purposes

Now, coming back to the point, I was flying to Delhi from Pune yesterday and noticed that there are a lot of vehicles running around, helping with the day-to-day operations of the airport. For example, small airports have tracktors which I presume are being used to move luggage between the airplane and the terminal. Bigger airports have buses to shuttle people from the airplane to the terminal. There are oil tankers carrying air fuel. There also seem to be a few private 4 seater vehicles, which I presume are used to shuttle the cabin crew to and from the airplane.

Now, coming to the point, what is the carbon footprint of a terminal/airport? I will need to look this up but i'm confident that most of these vehicles are running on petrol/diesel and are not electricity. And I don't see why the vehicles can't be electric. They are used intermittently. The vehicles operate in a very constricted area and there are specific paths/routes/locations where the vehicles can move and can idle.

All of this makes me believe that airports are the perfect place to go full electric, reducing the carbon footprint of the airport and maybe even get awards for being the most green airport. Because awards and recognition are what we all care about in the end, isn't it? (Sarcasm).

Taking the airport off the grid

I remember reading about an airport in Kerela going full electric, which you can read more about here : http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/kochi-airport-becomes-worlds-first-to-operate-on-solar-power/. It's a move in the right direction, to cut the airport completely off the grid and relying on solar. It would've been much more awesome if all vehicles in the airport, being used for airport's official duties, were switched to run on electric and not petrol/diesel. Hey, i'll be happy if they atleast switch to using CNG instead of petrol/diesel for the moment and charting a plan to slowly replace existing vehicles.

If you think about it a little, you might think that glare from the solar panels might be a problem to incoming airplanes. I thought so too. But, after duckduckgo-ing a little, I came across this interesting article - http://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/solar-panels-near-airports-glare-issue/. As pointed out in the article, solar panels reflect a little more than what ashpalt does. And as pointed out towards the end of the article, because the nose of the plane is slightly tilted upwards while descent, the reflected light, as small as it is, will fall mostly on the underside of the plane, not in the cockpit.

In conclusion, setting up a solar farm at an airport and converting all of the official vehicles from being petrol/diesel based to electric will make a huge difference to the environment. Think all airports. It's going to be a decade-long, if not longer, effort but it's a worthy investment, of time and money.

The only question now is, whether or not the government has any plans of doing so. If not, what all information do they need to be convinced.

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