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Floating solar plant

Topics Covered:

  1. Energy related issues.

 

Floating solar plant

What to study?

  • Static Part: About floating solar plants in India.
  • Dynamic and Current: Floating solar plants- significance, potential, challenges and solutions.

 

Context: A 50MW floating solar plant will be set up in the country’s largest reservoir Rihand dam in Sonbhadra district in UP.

 

Floating solar plants- significance:

Floating solar plants are considered an alternate option to tackle land availability issues. The concept involves setting up 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.

 

Challenges:

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 overall 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.

 

What ails floating solar?

  • Non-availability of floats in India makes it an expensive option.
  • Project costs higher by 30%-50%than ground mounted solar.
  • Dependent on European or Chinese suppliers.

 

Facts for Prelims:

The largest floating solar plant to date is a 2MW one in Vishakhapatnam. Another is a 500-kWh plant built by the Kerala State Electricity Board at the Banasura Sagar Dam.

 

Sources: Down to Earth.