Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Locations Mentioned
Mains level: India’s solar power ambitions and hurdles to it
Floating Solar Plants in India
- The largest floating solar plant to date is a 2MW one in Vishakhapatnam.
- The country’s largest floating solar plant of 50MW will be set up in the reservoir of Rihand dam (Govind Ballabh Pant Sagar, Rihand River is a tributary of the Son River) in Sonbhadra district of UP.
- Another is a 500-kWh plant built by the Kerala State Electricity Board at the Banasura Sagar Dam.
Land starved UP to get benefited
- Floating solar or an array of solar panels set up on a structure that floats on a water body has long been viewed as an advantage over ground mounted solar plants owing to its cooling effect and unavailability of land.
- Floating solar makes intuitive sense in geographies with high land costs and poor availability.
Challenges for Implementation
- Floating solar plants are clearly more expensive.
- The tariff for large scale solar around the country is well under Rs 3 per kWh.
- The higher tariffs is UP is partly due to higher land costs as there isn’t a lot of waste land available for the taking in the highly fertile, populated state.
- The floating platforms, on which the plants are mounted on the water surface, and anchoring to keep the plant fixed over the fluid, is estimated to be more than 20 per cent of the total plant capital expenditure.
- Floating devices are difficult to transport incurring costs that are five times that of the solar panels.
- It is also unclear if there is an indigenous manufacturing base for the floatation devices.
- In India, floating solar is likely to face challenges scaling up to the level of ground-mounted plants.
- It is unclear that domestic R&D efforts can quickly expand to deliver the envisioned 10GW Solar Power.
- However floating solar is a definite for states that are a significant market for more renewable energy but with little land to spare, as is the case with Uttar Pradesh.