Solar energy is the most-sought-after alternative source of energy, which is evident with the transition to renewable energy sources for power generation being on the rise. And, India today is poised as the fastest growing market for renewable energy in the world. The country boasts of an ambitious renewable energy target of 175 GW by 2022 of which solar comprises 100 GW. India is making great strides, and this is clear with the emerging floating solar traction.
Floating photovoltaic (PV) power plants featured with high compactness can be installed on water bodies, eliminating the need for large open spaces. With the possibility of being built over dams, they offer an edge over the conventional land-based power plants. India has quite a few large water sources which present a good opportunity for floating solar. The commission of the floating PV plant at Wayanad, Kerala is a reiteration and is one of the most impressive solar power projects in the country. In this context, it has been estimated that around 300 GW of floating PV power plants can be set up in India by utilizing around 10% to 15% of water bodies in the states like Assam, Kerala, Odisha, and West Bengal. And, this is a great premise for transforming India into a renewable energy-rich nation.
A floating PV plant is featured with a unique edifice. The plant has a floating structure (aka Pontoon), which can support the solar panels’ heavy load, whilst having the buoyancy to stay afloat on water. It is held securely through mooring (a permanent structure), which prevents it from moving around. It also eliminates the need to connect to the shore. The underwater cabling is designed to be shock-and-leakage proof and is an important link between the grid and the solar panels. While technology gives an edge to floating PV power plants, here are some advantages:
- Water Savings: The floating PV plants are known to reduce the loss of water. In the context of cleaning floating PV systems, the water used to clean the plants reportedly goes back directly into the water body.
- Higher energy output: The floating PV systems, in comparison to their conventional counterparts, generates around 10% to 12% more energy because they are lesser prone to dust when installed on the water bodies.
Amid the benefits, there are challenges, but the floating PV plants will lead the country to a greener and sustainable future with technological advancements.