Floating solar has numerous benefits and a huge potential in India. World’s largest 600 MW floating solar energy project will be constructed in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh. EQ International Magazine hosted a webinar on ‘Floating Solar in India’ on October 22, 2021. Speakers shared their views on the topic and discussed the prospects for the floating solar PV sector in India, technology, potential, opportunities, support mechanisms, core benefits and challenges.
The panellists included Goutam Samantha, Head PV Technology-Juniper Green Energy; VivekJha, Independent Consultant, PrerakThekadi, Dy. General Manager- Techno Commercial, Adani Green Energy Limited; GRN Reddy- Independent Consultant; Amit Singh, Head Quality & Operational Excellence, Head Floating Solar, Mahindra Susten; M.R. Narayan, Chairman- Adtech Systems Limited; Pankaj Kumar, Co-Founder and Director- Quant Solar, and Mohan S Raghavan, CEO -IsifloatingAutonic Energy Systems Pvt Ltd.
Floating solar plants offers numerous advantages compared to ground-mounted systems. The potential estimate released by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)indicated that 280 GW of capacity could be installed across India. The government has set the target of achieving 10 GW of floating PV capacity by the year 2022. The sector has many challenges, related to supply chain, technology, upfront cost, highly competitive solar or renewable energy markets, etc.
Disha Agarwal, Programme Lead- Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), participated as moderator. Introducing the topic, Disha Agarwal, Programme Lead- CEEW, said that floating solar is an emerging technology. If scaled up, it can help India’s clean energy transition and generate employment to reinvigorate the economy. CEEW published research that explored the employment potential in this sector.
“A small scale floating PV plant, which is less than 1 MW capacity, directly employs around 58 workers, while a mid-scale plant with less than 10 MW capacity employs around 45 workers throughout the deployment of the plant,” said Disha Agarwal. Experts discussed complexities in technology design and engineering, installation-related requirements, tariff trends, supply chain, required data ecosystem and more.
VivekJha, Independent Consultant, enlightened the opportunities, risks and challenges associated with floating solar. Emphasizing its need in India, he said that the energy demand is rising in India; thus, new renewable energy capacity installations are required. The renewable energy target of 450 GW for solar and wind will need a lot of land. Indulging in floating solar can be beneficial in order to avoid land conflict issues caused by the large deployment of solar.
PrerakThekadi, Dy. General Manager- Techno Commercial -Adani Green Energy Limited, spoke on the market outlook and site assessment. “The global potential of floating solar is about 400 GW. A floating solar capacity of 2.6 GW was added across 35 countries in 2020. Floating solar has to work a lot, but it can capture the mainstream in a short duration,” he informed.Hydro Power generation is seasonal, and floating solar can compensate for the generation in this case.
The transmission line utilization can be increased to a possible extent. “We should adopt multiple tests for this technology, which can give a quality product and assure us about the sustainability of the product for 25 years. We have to encourage research and development,” he added. Some crucial factors for floating solar includes project finance, return to the investor, reliability of floating technology, established R&D centre and quality standard for growth, GW-scale planning versus readiness to supply and industry readiness.
GRN Reddy shared his views on future trends. Modules require customization to last for 25 years or some kind of coatings to enhance self-cleaning, anti-reflection, anti-flogging and energy transmittance properties of solar panels. Evaporation is uniform in floating solar, which evenly cools the modules from the rear side. The effective generation is at least 08 to 10 per cent more. The panellists focused on the technology requirements at the project level, planning tools, risks associated with the sector’s expansion, financing concerns, and more.