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Floating Solar PV Applications in India - Resource Potential, Challenges and Market Outlook

Mr. Abhinav Gupta - General Manager International Expansion & New  ReNew Power Limited 

Floating solar technology is not very different from the ground mount solar technology, albeit its adaptability to fit onto floating structures. Take a regular, ground mounted Solar project; Deduct the land, the civil works, structures and fencing; Add the water
body, floater for panels and mooring & anchoring system; And you have a much more efficient solar system, a Floating one.
Market Outlook & Potential – Globally, China and Japan lead the pioneering effort for floating solar projects, with installation of more than 80% of the total global capacity of
1.3 GW.
Utilizing <10% of Indian dams’ surface area can generate 400+ GW, saving ~2 million acres for alternate use. In addition to dams, these projects can also be installed on reservoirs used for industries, irrigation, drinking water storage, as well as aquaculture ponds. While currently India has only a few megawatts of operational floating solar projects, there are hundreds of megawatts of floating solar projects under development, and many more tenders expected by SECI and other agencies soon. With an expected run rate of 2+ GW floating solar tenders each year over next 5 years, the industry is on the rise.
Challenges – While a floating solar installation has multiple environmental, economic and social benefits, some of the challenges facing the industry are:
„Higher capital cost, as compared to ground mounted solar
„ Insufficient project performance data
„Lack of clarity on technical norms for floaters technology for such projects
„ Absence of hydrographic data of water bodies
There are steps being taken by all stakeholders, including the Government, investors, developers, technology providers, EPC companies and financial institutions, to overcome these challenges, and provide direction to the industry. As the industry matures and more capacity is installed, the day is not far when floating solar projects would compete with other energy modalities purely based on LCOE, without any external support system.


 

Mr. Prerak Thekadi - Category Lead - Techno Commercial - Adani Green Energy Limited

Floating Photovoltaic (PV) technology is an innovative concept of solar-energy generation utilizing water surface available on dams, reservoirs and other water bodies. The major components of a PV floating system are Floating system (Structure + Float), Anchoring System, Mooring System, PV System & Balance of
The major areas of concern are high price of floats, few domestic manufacturing bases for float manufacturing, high cost of transportation for floats, lack of testing and standard procedures of floating solar, untested technology for long run, lack of financial resources, lack of experience and knowledge, ecological and adverse impacts on water ecosystem etc. However, with both implementing agencies and developers both struggling with the issue of land availability, floating PV tenders are on the rise in India, which will eventually help in maturing the technology and overcome most of areas of concern related to the technology.
Following steps can support floating technology viable for Indian market:
„ Bathymetric and Hydrographic analysis with tender bidding
Owing to the growing demand for non-conventional sources to meet energy needs, floating solar has also earned a lot of interest in recent times, thanks to its major advantages like non-dependency on huge parcel of land, conservation of water through the reduction of evaporation, increased generation due to a cooling effect on the panels and requirement of lesser installation time than conventional land mounted ones. However, floating technology need to mature a lot in order to draw substantial interest from major developers and reaching the volume comparable to ground-mounted systems.
„Motivate lenders to finance Project
„ Surface area charge waive off to promote technology
„Encourage R&D investment
„Establish Raw material standard for Quality (Correct grade of HDPE & UV content)
„ Proper selection of Module - optimum output and reliability
„ Skill development for mooring and anchoring system


Mr. Rahul Khatri - Technical Manager – South Asia DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions

Floating PV (FPV) is certainly an interesting application and the potential seems high in India with numerous water bodies across the country. Though the current FPV installation base is small in India, it is gaining momentum. Tenders of more than 1.5 GW have been released and MNRE is aiming
to install 10 GW FPV by 2022. While the application was initially conceptualized because of scarcity of land in some countries in Asia, other benefits including better power generation owing to lower ambient temperatures, water conservation due to reduced evaporation and synergies with horticulture, are driving interest in regions including India. One of the biggest challenges of FPV is the long-term reliability and operation of projects in relatively unknown conditions. Glass-glass module technology was a preferable choice in early installations owing to its lower water vapor transmission rates. India’s solar industry is looking to follow the same trend but the overall long-term performance of glass-glass structures needs to be considered. Many recent and old installations with double glass modules indicate serious reliability and durability issues in the technology, including breakage (especially in frameless modules), power loss due to moisture retention that seeps
in from the edges, and higher operating temperatures. While modules in FPV get exposed to high humidity, conventional glass to backsheet modules are tested to operate in much higher humidity levels, and modules made with DuPont™ Tedlar® PVF film-based backsheets have proven to perform successfully for 25+ years in high humid regions and are better suited for FPV applications. Also, given the uncertain nature of FPV application and high cost focus in India, use of durable PV materials in modules is required to withstand environmental stresses to resist corrosion, humidity, salt and mechanical stresses in the duration of their operational service life. This can be enforced by incorporating tighter specifications in Bill of Materials (BoM) and technical standards for module selection.


Mr. Ashish Kulkarni - Associate Partner - Ernst & Young LLP

The advent of the Floating Solar PV technology (FPV), has emerged as a potential solution to the availability of land and substantial costs associated with the land procurement/lease. Comprising of a floating system (buoyant structure and floater),
FPV utilises dead water spaces to maximise the utility of resources and promotes higher efficiencies and water conservation.
FPV in synergy with the hydroelectric plants, presents a viable solution to India’s energy concerns through a Hydro-Solar hybrid energy system. As per the IEA analysis, the total renewable generation in 2030 expected to be at 919 TWh, the hybridisation presents significant energy potential in India. The hybridisation will enable FPV to produce solar energy during the day and saving water for hydroelectricity during intermittent times. Moreover, the Hydro-station’s existing electrical infrastructure including high voltage grid access and transformation devices will lower CapEx costs, enable easy integration and faster capacity addition to the plants.
NRLD, 2017, identifies 5254 completed large dams in India, this opens up opportunities for floating solar power plants in the country. With the fast-paced development of technology leading to reduced costs, floating solar power plants could indeed help us meet the ambitious 100 GW solar PV target by 2022 and satiate the unquenching thirst for water in our country.
Use of digital technologies to a) assess the risks associated pre-construction b) during construction and c) post construction including reduction of O&M is the need of the day, A comprehensive nation-wide potential sites for FPV with a holistic evaluation of risks associated with the sites will enable bidders/developers to bid with a realistic cost estimates and will lead to better participation in the bids.
The success of FPV in India also is dependent on various ministries such as marine life, water, environment & forests to work together with MNRE. This needs a holistic policy review and amendments necessary to make the deployment of large scale FPV a reality.


 

 

Mr. Pankaj Kumar - Co-Founder and Director Quant Solar Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

The concept of Floating Solar PV installations open up new opportunities for scaling up solar generating capacity in country like India which is blessed with hundreds of thousands of medium to large water reservoirs, dams & lakes. With increasing difficulties in land acquisition for big scale solar plants and given the ambitious targets of solar installation in the next few years, Floating Solar sector holds a huge potential given the easy availability of open surface on water bodies.
Since the successful commissioning of India’s first Megawatt scale Floating Solar Plant by QuantSolar, Floating Solar projects of capacity over 400 MW have been allotted till date and projects of over 1000 MW are in the pipeline. Given the high volume of upcoming projects with only few players in India offering Floating Solar Technology, it’s going to be a challenging task to meet the demand. In this scenario, the obvious inclination of stakeholders will be to import floaters from China and other developed countries which has good supply base. However, the exorbitant logistics cost of importing floaters compounded with serious quality issues and least accountability of the product after commissioning is a big deterrent.
Since the plant is supposed to withstand extreme environmental conditions and to sustain for 25 years, the design and engineering of Floating system along with the deep water anchoring system for Megawatt scale projects demands a thorough expertise and knowledge of the behavior of floating structures under various static and dynamic forces of environment. Therefore, developing a good eco-system in India is imperative where more and more efforts are put into R & D activities to improvise the technology and to promote the Technology & IP driven Indian players for expanding their manufacturing base to cater to big demand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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