Maharashtra plans floating solar plants
MUMBAI: Faced with land acquisition hassles, the Maharashtra government has finally come up with a policy to let private players set up floating solar plants on water bodies like rivers and dams in the state.
In the first phase, six companies, including Tata Power and other smaller players, have won the bid to generate 1,000 MW of solar power on the Ujjani Dam in Solapur district. “We will be buying power at the rate of Rs 2.71 to Rs 2.71 per unit from the private companies,” an official from the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company said. The power purchase agreements signed with the companies are valid for 25 years.
Officials say tenders for floating solar power plants on the Irai Dam in Chandrapur district will soon be opened. State government sources say they plan to increase solar power generation from 624 MW to 3,200 MW in the next two years by installing floating solar plants across the state. Solar power, officials say, will account for 40 per cent of the total renewable energy in the state in the next two years.
Maharashtra generates renewable energy from multiple sources like wind, bagasse, biomass, etc. However, renewable energy accounts for less than 10 per cent of the total power generated in the state, according to information available from the state energy department.
Power Minister Chandrakant Bavankule recently told reporters that the potential for solar power in Maharashtra was around 7,200 MW. In order to speed up projects in the solar power sector, the Maharashtra Cabinet also gave the green signal for adopting the Swiss challenge method to finalise bidders to set up the floating solar plants. However, the bureaucracy is still working on the modalities involved, according to sources.
India’s largest floating plant opened in 2017
Inaugurated in 2017, the 500-kWp (kilowatt peak) solar plant of the Kerala State Electricity Board floats on 1.25 acres of water surface in the Banasura Sagar reservoir in Wayanad, Kerala. The plant has 1,938 solar panels installed on 18 ferro cement floaters with hollow insides. In May this year, China installed the world’s largest floating solar system of 40 MW in Huainan.
Why it’s better
- Solar panels work better when they are cooled, a reason why these have higher efficiency than ground-mounted plants
- Another advantage is floating solar panels can shade the water they float on and reduce evaporation by up to 70%
- Solar panels prevent sunlight from hitting the water, which can slow down algae growth
Source: The Tribune