India’s Largest Floating Solar Plant - UPSC Current Affairs

India’s Largest Floating Solar Plant - UPSC Current Affairs

Here’s our today’s edition of the Current Affairs Dialog box wherein we will discuss India’s Largest Floating Solar Plant in detail.

Navigate through the article to get useful insights on the topic and enhance your UPSC preparationIts relevance to the CSE syllabus is mentioned below:

For Prelims: National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), Photovoltaic system, Ecological impact, Floating Solar Project.

For Mains: Government Policies and Intervention, Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Environment Pollution and degradation.

Context

India’s largest floating solar plant, the 100-megawatt (MW) floating solar power photovoltaic project is now fully operational.

Probable Question

India’s largest floating solar project recently started working. Critically analyze India’s Solar Energy potential and existing capacity. 

About the Floating Solar Plant

  • It is commissioned by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC). 
  • It is situated in the NTPC’s reservoir at Ramagundam in Telangana’s Peddapalli district.
  • The contract to construct over 500 acres of the large floating power plant was given to Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) on an EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) contract.
  • It has the capacity to produce 100 MW, whereas NTPC has set a target to produce 60 GW (gigawatts) of energy through renewable energy sources by 2032.
  • NTPC has declared that the last 20 MW capacity part of the plant is ready for commercial operation.

Also Read : Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

Structure of the Floating Solar Plants

  • It has a network of floating solar panels, or photovoltaics/floatovoltaics, that are mounted on a structure, to float it on the surface of a water body.
  • It often has a floating system or pontoon, a mooring structure to prevent panels from moving freely in water and to keep it near the shore, 
  • The photovoltaic system generates electricity using thermal energy, and an underwater cable to transfer the generated power to a substation.
  • It is floated through the placement of 11,200 solar modules on every 40 blocks, that have the capacity of 2.5 MW.
  • The floaters, on which solar modules are placed, are manufactured with high-density polyethylene (HDP) material

Advantages of the Project

  • Minimum land requirement (only for associated evacuation arrangements).
  • Water conservation through reduced water evaporation (approx. 32.5 lakh cubic meters per year can be avoided).
  • More efficiency and generation of energy, as the underneath waterbody maintains the temperature of the plant.
  • Reduce coal consumption by 1,65,000 tons each year.
  • Reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,10,000 tons every year.
  • It will be the most cost-efficient electricity generation in history, as per an International Energy Agency (IEA) report.
  • Better for the environment, if designed and deployed appropriately, reduce the threat posed by climate change to water bodies.
  • Improves quality of water as the solar panels prevent the growth of algae.

Disadvantages of the Project

  • The long-term ecological impacts on water ecosystems are unknown as the technology is relatively new. 
  • Solar panels can block sunlight, which can affect aquatic life.
  • As per the World Bank notes in its report ‘Where Sun Meets Water’, the challenges could be –
    • The lack of a robust track record;
    • Uncertainty surrounding costs;
    • Uncertainty about predicting environmental impact;
    • The technical complexity of designing, building, and operating on and in water (especially electrical safety, anchoring and mooring issues, and operation and maintenance).

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Floating Solar Projects Potential in India

  • According to a 2020 study by think tank The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), reservoirs cover 18,000 sq km in India and can generate 280 GW through floating solar panels.
  • The world’s largest floating 600 MW solar energy project is being constructed on the Omkareshwar dam in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh.

Way Forward

  • The global demand for floating solar power will grow by 22% year-over-year on average, from 2019 through 2024.
  • If 1% of the surface area of all human-made water bodies was covered by floating solar panels, it could generate 400 GW – enough electricity to power 44 billion LED light bulbs for a year.
  • Potential implications of the projects on the ecosystem must be studied before expanding them to a larger scale. 
Additional Information:

The first floating photovoltaic system was built in Japan in 2007.The first commercial installation came up in California, in 2008.

The world’s largest floating solar farm is in Shandong, China, generating 320 MW per hour.

India launched the National Solar Mission in 2010 to tap sources of renewable energy.

The Government of India plans to establish a renewable energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030.

NTPC has made announcements for similar future floating solar plant projects: A 92MW floating solar plant at Kayamkulam in Kerala.

A 25MW floating solar plant at Simhadri in Andhra Pradesh.

Source: The Hindu

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