KOLKATA: Bengal is set to get South Asia’s biggest floating solar power plant. The 500MW plant is likely to attract an investment of Rs 2,500 crore. Sources in power department indicated that Kangsabati river at Mukutmanipur could be the location for the project. If everything goes as per plans, it may also become the country’s first floating solar power plant. The Centre has plans to set up two such plants in Maharashtra and Kerala too.
KfW, formerly KfW Bankengruppe, the German government-owned development bank, based in Frankfurt, is keen to finance the project in Bengal. Incidentally, representatives of KfW were present during chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s Germany tour in 2018.
Before this, the biggest solar power project proposed in Bengal was the 200MW solar park at Dadanpatra in East Midnapore. The project is awaiting approval of the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE).
KfW, a source said, may also fund a 200MW ground mounting solar power plant in the state that might attract an additional investment of Rs 1,000 crore. Director of KfW, Christoph Kessler, told TOI that the project was big. “If you consider 500MW capacity, then it is quite big,” he said.
Kessler had visited the city recently to attend the annual meeting of members (eastern region) of Indo German Chamber of Commerce. According to him, KfW had a few rounds of discussion with West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL) in this regard. “Now, we are scouting for the location,” he added.
Incidentally, MNRE has recently announced collaboration with KfW for implementation of solar power projects over waterbodies.
The MNRE has conducted a study to assess the potential of floating solar power plants in India. In collaboration with Germany-based development bank KfW, the Centre has plans to set up two floating solar power plants in Maharashtra and Kerala. Both the plants are likely to cost about US$46.15 million (Rs 280 crore-Rs 300 crore). But, sources said that capacity of these plants would be less than 500MW.
An MNRE senior official said that 40MW of solar capacity would be set up first. Larger capacity floating solar plants are expected to be built once technical viability of the floating solar technology is assessed from the initial projects. According to the preliminary study undertaken by Kolkata-based Renewable Energy College, India has the potential to generate 310GW solar power from floating solar power plants. There are 61.5 lakh hectares of still water surfaces in India which can be used to install floating solar panels.
The KfW director pointed out that Bengal could well be its next destination after Odisha in eastern region.