India is planning large-scale floating solar arrays on hydropower reservoirs and other bodies of water in Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand, as well as at the Lakshadweep islands.
“India has sufficient land for traditional solar installations, much of it is in remote areas inhospitable to agriculture, including deserts,” Shailesh K. Mishra, Director of Power Systems at the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Putting solar panels on water, by comparison, cuts transmission costs by moving power generation closer to the people who need the energy.”
It is not the first time India has toyed with the idea of using reservoirs and hydropower sites for floating solar. SECI has already proposed 10 GW of solar be developed on such sites over the next three years, and such plans offset the physical and legal hurdles of aggregating locations for land-intensive solar projects.
Rising tide floats solar projects
Of late, several tenders for relatively small-scale floating PV projects have been issued, including a total 1 GW worth by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited, and 10 MW by the Lakshadweep Energy Development Agency. In Uttar Pradesh, SECI has increased the capacity of floating solar from 100 to 150 MW.
Last month, SECI extended India’s largest floating solar tender for a seventh time. The 150 MW project will be set up on Uttar Pradesh’s Rihand Dam, India’s largest by volume and the nation’s largest artificial lake.
This year, the Greater Visakhapatnam Smart City Corporation Limited commissioned a 2 MW grid-connected floating solar project on the Mudasarlova reservoir which is currently the largest operational floating solar project in India, dethroning a 500 kW project commissioned in Kerala in December.
According to a report by the World Bank Group and the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, the global potential of floating solar is estimated to be around 400 GW. China accounts for the largest chunk of the world’s total, with 1.1 GW of capacity.