Floating Solar Plants Gain Momentum As India Nears Its Sunshine Dream
After India’s largest floating solar plant was launched in Kerala in December 2017, various states are mulling the idea of having such a set up, too. Recently, the Maharashtra government set up a committee to study issues related to the development of a 1,000-megawatt (mw) floating solar power plant at Ujani dam.
Eight such plants have already been announced and tenders for two such projects are open. These include a plant on Ujani Dam; five mw plant in Murshidabad (West Bengal); a project each in Bhakra and Nangal, a three-mw plant in Visakhapatnam’s Meghadrigedda reservoir, two-mw plant on the Mudasarlova reservoir and a five-mw plant on Raiwada Canal; a 10-mw plant in Lakshwadeep; and a five-mw plant in north Andaman.
The concept of floating solar plants is not new. It was first introduced by Tata Power in 2011 when it announced a project back then.
What are floating solar plants?
Not just India, countries such as France, Japan and China have also installed the floating solar plants. These plants that float solar panels on a water body are viable in times when there is not enough land to have large-capacity setups.
States that have lakes or reservoirs can find this as an option to set up a solar plant.
These plants are known to have a positive impact on the solar cell’s efficiency. This means the PV panels can convert more sunlight into electricity without been harmed by the intense heat. The efficiency is said to go up by 19 per cent on water.
However, there is a question whether this impacts the aquatic life. Experts suggest that shading the water with the farm helps restrict the growth of water weeds.
However promising, the concept of floating solar plant has its own challenges that the government will have to address while these are being built. First, the viability of safe evacuation of power from these floating plants to the grids from where the power is further distributed. Second, a keen eye has to be put on whether or not it will impact the aquatic life of the water body. Third, will these plants be financially less of a burden or similarly priced when compared to the land-based plants.