India’s energy problems have been well documented over the past couple of years, most notably during the huge blackouts in 2012 which left over 700 million without power.
Boosting oil or natural gas consumption is not an economically, nor environmentally, viable option, so India must look to improve its energy independence by increasing domestic generation capacity.
The constantly falling costs of solar PV panels makes solar power an attractive option for India, and one of the latest solar projects to begin development is the country’s first ever floating solar power plant.
SP Gon Choudhury, Director at Development Consultants Private Limited and Vice Chairman at Calcutta Institute of Technology, is leading the team that will build the floating power plant on a pond at the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata.
The Hindustan Times quoted Choudary as explaining that “a floating solar power station would prove to be a revolutionary step as it could solve the perennial problem of land. Such pilot projects are also going on in a few countries such as France and Australia.
Studies have also shown that if the rear surface of solar panels are kept cooler, then their ability to generate power goes up by 16%. As these solar panels would be floating on water, they are expected to stay cool and hence we can generate more power than those set up on land.”
The solar panels will be attached to a platform that floats on airtight, plastic or tin drums. The 100 square metre power plant will have a generating capacity of 10kW, giving it a power-to-size ration of 100 watts per square metre, or about a 10% efficiency.
Choudary stated that “requests have also been sent to a few other state government agencies and departments so that the water bodies near Patuli and Science City off the EM Bypass could be utilised.”
The next phase of the plan would be to install floating solar power plants at hydroelectric dams, such as Panchet and Mython. “This would not only help conserve water for the dry seasons when power generation goes down because of lack of water but would also help us generate extra power – solar and hydro from a single station.”