Over the past few years, the renewable energy sector, and more precisely solar, has received a huge boost. Developments in manufacturing of panels have resulted in a major drop of prices, making it extremely hard for wind-, hydro-, wave- power and all other renewables to keep up.
Of course, this has not gone unnoticed by world’s leading energy producers, who are now being driven by the famous saying “if you cannot beat them, join them.” A great example of this is the Indian National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), who have been trying to find a way to integrate solar in their power-generating process for quite some time, and now they have the solution. They will make use of their fresh water resources and build the world’s largest floating solar power plant.
With this project, NHPC is not only going to boost their energy production, but they will also elegantly avoid the continuously increasing prices that land owners ask in return for their land, suitable for construction of solar power plants. Because water surfaces can not be used for anything else, the owners of water bodies have no other choice but ask for much less.
NHPC has selected the southern state Kerala for their pilot project. The total cost of the project is between $64 -72 million, where the initial funding comes from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Additional technical expertise is provided by specialists at the Renewable Energy Collage of Kerala, who have developed their own design of floating solar array. If it all goes according to plan, the pilot system should go online in October this year.
Once completely finished, the floating solar power plant will be generating 50MW of power, which is much greater than the modest 1.2 MW currently produced by the only competitor of the technology, Solar-on-the-water Okegawa. NHPC sees a huge potential in the technology given the vast availability of unused surfaces of fresh water bodies across south India.
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