Floating Solar: Indian Scenario
India is known to have a large number of man-made reservoirs, which are used for a variety of purposes like irrigation, hydroelectric, water supply, navigation, etc.
In fact, as on June 2019, the share of installed hydroelectric capacity stands at 45 GW out of 366 GW of total installed capacity of the country, representing 12.8% share in the total.
These reservoirs impound large volumes of water during monsoon for eventual use during the lean season. The prevalent high temperatures and arid conditions, however, result in substantial evaporation losses from these reservoirs. CWC estimates that average annual evaporation from reservoirs/ water bodies in India varies from 1.5 m to 3.0 m per km2 . Thus FSPV presents a possibility to generate clean energy via a technology that is land neutral and has the potential to conserve water by reducing the evaporation losses.
The journey started with a 10kW FSPV plant on a pond in Rajarhat, Kolkata in 2015. The project was part of a research activity sponsored by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
In 2016, NTPC installed country’s largest 100kW plant on a reservoir of its combined cycle power plant situated in Kerala’s Kayamkulam district. Later in December same year, Kerala State Electricity Board started its operation of 500kW plant at Banasura Sagar reservoir in Wayanad district replacing NTPC’s 100kW as a largest FSPV-based plant.
Recent bids results indicate a sharp decline in the investment cost for FSPV. In the latest tender result of the country’s first large-scale FSPV plant of 70MW capacity, cost as low as INR 35 per Wp has been quoted by developers. This is the lowest cost achieved in the entire world so far.
Further considering last year’s trends, one can see the 45% reduction in the cost, which is significant. The reduction in costs, particularly in India may be linked to many factors like – decrease in the cost of floaters because of improvement in the manufacturing process, reduction in the material cost, reduction in thickness of floaters, aggressive biddings by project developers to get some experience in FSPV sector seeing the high growth in national as well international markets