The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (MahaGenco) is planning to develop solar power projects on dams in its first such attempt in the state. These floating solar panels will do away with the need for the state-owned utility to acquire land to add capacity to its renewable energy portfolio and also reduce the evaporation of water from these reservoirs.
The MahaGenco plans to develop solar power worth 250 MW capacity through this route. “We are planning solar power projects on dams and have initiated pre-feasibility studies. In the initial phase, these panels will be set up on our own reservoirs, such as the Irai dam at Chandrapur which supplies water to the Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station (CSTPS), after which we can take up work on the irrigation department’s resources,” a senior MahaGenco official told DNA.
The projects are likely to be set up in the public private partnership (PPP) route through tariff-based competitive bidding. The MahaGenco is also considering some dams owned by the water resources department, including those in Vidarbha and the Ujani dam at Solapur, for adding solar power capacity.
A senior water resources department official said they were willing to allow the setup of such projects on dams as these solar panels will reduce evaporation and make more water available for end-users. “We are willing to give a 2,000 hectare water area (surface area of the dam) of the 34,000 hectare total water area at Ujani. This will be an experimental project,” said another official from the department.
At present, the MahaGenco has 180 MW grid-connected solar power capacity, including 5 MW at Chandrapur, 125 MW at Sakhri in Dhule and 50 MW at Baramati. It has 10,580 MW installed thermal power generation capacity and plans to add further capacity largely in renewables.
The new renewable energy policy approved by the state government aims at creating 14,400 MW of fresh grid-connected installed capacity in the sector by 2020.
This includes 7,500 MW from solar energy of which the MahaGenco will undertake works on 2,500 MW with the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA) contributing the rest. Of this 2,500 MW, the generation utility plans to add 500 MW on its own lands on EPC basis and 500 MW through the solar park at Dondaicha in Dhule. Around 1,500 MW will come through sources including the grid-connected solar agriculture feeder scheme for which letters of intent for 204 MW have been issued, solar lift irrigation schemes including 65 MW at Mor dam in Jalgaon and 60 MW Tembhu in Sangli and the floating solar panels on dams.