10 GW of Floating Solar by 2022: Current Status And Steps Needed To Achieve The Target

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Floating solar photovoltaic is a new business opportunity to meet India’s renewable energy targets and create jobs, says the new study. Floating solar photovoltaic offers a new pathway for the country to realize its clean energy ambitions. Floating solar photovoltaic can generate additional employment opportunities in domestic manufacturing, research, and product design.

Experts said that a number of regions in India face issues around fragmented land holdings and high land cost, which has encouraged policymakers and utilities to explore the floating solar segment. Interest in Floating solar is growing in India with several water bodies across the country. Floating solar taps the country’s large water reservoirs to overcome some of the persisting issues of ground-mounted solar, such as the lack of levelled land, evacuation infrastructure and performance degradation due to high operating temperatures. India could potentially build 280 GW of Floating solar capacity by utilizing about 30% (nearly 1,800 kms2) of its medium and large water reservoirs.

India’s floating solar power market is witnessing a flurry of activity with major tenders being issued in the recent months. There is no doubt that the potential for power generation from floating solar in India is huge, as the country is endowed with many large reservoirs, however some initiatives are needed to achieve this target. MNRE should specify standards for PV modules used in the floating solar sector, there should be training programs on skills relevant to marine architecture and hydraulic engineering, initiating hydropower-linked floating solar project tenders, etc.

Let’s read what the experts say on the Current Status And Steps Needed To Achieve The 10 GW of Floating Solar Target by 2022.

While there are various sources of renewable energy under consideration, harnessing the power of the sun through solar PV has been one of the go to choices for its ease of construction and maintenance in the last few decades. These PV modules as on date are installed primarily on land, which in itself is a scarce resource. The available arid lands are currently being used to set up massive solar PV parks, and availability of such lands is going to reduce as time elapses. For regions in Asia and specifically a country like India, where population density is high and land availability is scarce, alternate bases for installation for solar PV parks need to be identified; and it is here Floating Solar offers a ray of light. Studies have indicated a potential of approximately 5884 GWp and globally and 280 GWp for India, if only 10% of the inland water bodies are covered with floating solar. Since the majority of the inland water bodies are in complete control of the government, availability of the base (in lieu of land) for installation of such plants should not be a concern. The above being said the government has set itself an ambitious target of installation of 10 MWp floating solar by 2022, for that to happen believe the following need to be undertaken on priority view the tech is still in its nascency :-

Amit Singh, Head Floating Solar and Head Quality, Mahindra Susten

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One of the key areas to be looked into is the in-situ survey of water bodies for bathymetry and geo-technical data in order to identify the actual water surface area available in any water body for the project installation. Such surveys not only allow a better and robust design of floating solar plants but provide much needed info to accurately estimate the costs involved in setting the FSP.

Another important area is to ensure the continuous supply chain of the HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) floaters to support GW scale FSPs installations. Companies like ours have been working relentlessly in this space for the last 5+ years and have developed innovative ways of manufacturing quality HDPE floaters within a short span to meet the growing demands. Today, scaling to 500MW per annum production is simple and can be achieved within a few months. Floater manufacturing requires a highly trained workforce with stringent quality standards to enable a FSP to operate for 25 years. Float quality issues post commissioning leading to serious damages can significantly impact the government targets and therefore companies working on quality products coupled with sound in-house engineering should be encouraged.

Pankaj Kumar, Co-Founder & Director, QuantSolar Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

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To keep pace with India’s RE commitments, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) invited expressions of interest from prospective developers in 2017 to implement 10 GW of floating photovoltaic (FPV) systems by 2022. However, as of July 2019, India has been able to add only about 2.7 MW. Currently, large-scale projects worth ~1.7 GW are under development, which are expected to contribute significantly to the 2020 target. This includes the National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC’s) 100 MW FPV plant in Telangana, India’s largest FPV project.

Given its tropical climate, India has the potential to deploy 280 GW of FPV capacity by utilising just 30% of medium and large water bodies, amounting to an area of 18,000 km2. Despite this, FPV has not taken off due to high capital cost, lack of bathymetric data (which assesses depth and topography of water bodies), and technical and environmental issues.

Jaymin Gajjar, Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), a research-based think tank.

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All the Large Scale PV installations require huge land parcels and are directly proportional to land availability. India has an ambitious solar power installation target, to commensurate with the solar targets, wherein the immediate two solutions are , expand Rooftop solar market and Floating solar both the solutions are inclusive to the National Solar Mission.

International experience with floating solar installation has given a lot of direction and momentum to the innovation of floating solar solutions. The annual capacity is estimated to rise from 1.3 GWp as estimated in 2018 to 4.6 GWp by 2022. Currently, China has maximum floating solar installation, followed by Japan and South Korea.

Sachin Rele, Promoter Director, Isifloating Autonic Energy Systems P Ltd, Mumbai, India

To view complete story download SolarQuarter India April issue: https://solarquarter.com/2021/05/19/solarquarter-india-magazine-april-2021/

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