Floating Solar Power Plants

Floating solar plants are a well-thought-out alternate option to tackle land availability issues. This concept involves installing solar panels on floats placed on dams, lakes and similar water bodies. Floating solar makes intuitive sense in geographies with high land costs and poor availability. Floating solar is a definite reprieve for states that are a significant market for more renewable energy but with little land to spare, as is the case with Uttar Pradesh. The global floating solar market is driven by Asian countries, with China and Japan being home to bulk of the existing operational capacity of 259 MW.

Floating solar plants in India:

  • Vishakhapatnam houses the largest floating solar plant till date with a capacity of
  • 500-kWh plant built by the Kerala State Electricity Board at the Banasura Sagar Dam.
  • The Uttar Pradesh cabinet has cleared a floating solar power plant on Rihand Dam. The project will generate 150 MW power and will be completed in 21 months from now on.

  Advantages of floating solar plant include:

  • Reduced evaporation from water reservoirs, as the solar panels provide shad
  • e and limit the evaporative effects of wind
  • Improved water quality, through decreased algae growth
  • Reduction/elimination of shading of panels by their surroundings
  • No need for major site preparation, such as levelling or the laying of foundations, which must be done for land-based installations
  • Easy installation and deployment in sites with low anchoring and mooring requirements, with a high degree of modularity, leading to faster installations

Challenges to floating solar plant:

In India, floating solar is likely to face challenges scaling up to the level of ground-mounted plants.

  • Cost: Despite being land neutral, the cost of the floating systems including anchoring, installation, maintenance and transmission renders the over all cost of the floating solar systems are much higher than the land-based systems at this initial stage of development.
  • Technical issues: Besides the two major issues of corrosion and instability, other issues like the long term impact of moist environment on modules, cables, safe transmission of power through the floats to the nearest feeder point, the environmental impact on the water body and the marine life etc needs to be addressed and – make the system cost effective.

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