Floating Solar : Third Pillar of global PV market
Floating solar has gained traction worldwide and is expected to grow strongly in the coming years. Floating solar is also known as the future third pillar of the global PV market. It is being increasingly preferred as an alternative to solar PV deployment which is land-intensive and challenging.
In India, FSPV technology is in its early stage of development. As of today, a few projects with a cumulative capacity of 2.7MW have been installed and projects of over 1.7GW capacity are in various stages of development in the country. The key factors essential for determining the floating solar PV potential in India includes % of water surface are coverage, the purpose of water body, water level variations and plant location.
The prevalence of the large number of man-made water reservoirs that are used for various purposes such as irrigation, water supply, and hydroelectric is likely to result in increased floating solar PV plant installations in the country in the coming years. Clean energy can be generated by reducing the evaporation losses from reservoirs that occur as a result of high temperature and arid conditions. Average annual evaporation from reservoirs/ water bodies in India varies from 1.5 m to 3.0 m per sq km.
According to the Floating Solar Photovoltaic (FSPV) report, 2020 published by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India’s reservoirs have around 18000 sq km that can be used to generate around 280 GW of solar power through floating solar photovoltaic (PV) plants. Maharashtra has the highest floating potential with around 3,173 sq km surface area in reservoirs which can be used to generate 57,891 MW of electricity.
Various tenders have been issued by the public sector undertakings (PSUs) in 2020. National Handloom Development Corporation Limited (NHDC) issued a 25-MW floating solar PV tender for the design, procurement, engineering, and construction of the project at Sanavad, Madhya Pradesh for five years.
Increasing floating solar PV installations is likely to spur the growth of the floating PV market in the country. For instance, the government of Madhya Pradesh announced the world’s largest floating solar project worth USD 410 million at the Narmada River with a capacity of 600 MW. The project is expected to commence in 2022-23. Additionally, the government has issued a tender to study the social and environmental impact of the project.
Floating solar PV could be a great potential option to speed up solar power deployment in the country and thus, achieve nationally set contribution goals to the solar industry.