Its Time For Solar On Water Bodies
Solar on water bodies
The demand for power is growing due to the increasing global population. However this caused damage to our existing ecosystems as most of the power generated today comes from fossil fuels. The residential, commercial and industrial segments of the society have large power requirements. The traditional sources of power are not only polluting the environment, but are also a burden on the public exchequer. The problem has become so acute that it has led nations to sit up and take notice. Different countries have been formulating policies to reduce their carbon footprint.
Countries can choose between importing large quantities of oil and coal, or use free and abundant renewable energy sources, to meet huge unmet demand for power. The whole idea of going solar is to cut greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning of fuels from traditional sources of power and enjoy free and clean energy from the sun.
India has announced an aggressive solar installation target by 2022, but it needs to invest heavily on expensive land to install them. The solar projects would require a total area of 500,000 acres. Land acquisition for development of the proposed solar parks and projects has become a major issue. Moreover the land should be located in close proximity to urban lands, where demand for electricity is the highest. In order to utilize waste lands away from the urban areas, extra infrastructure cost to provide connectivity needs to be incurred. In fact, developers have always ended up paying way more on land cost than what they have budgeted.
It is primarily due to this reason that solar on water bodies is being considered as an attractive alternative in India. The floatovoltaics technology also supports the overall ecology of water bodies and is more efficient than the conventional land based PV plants. India is also blessed with such large number of water bodies; it is possible to achieve majority of India’s ambitious solar target without wasting land and instead by using the water bodies.
Dams, reservoirs, irrigation canals and waste water bodies can all be utilized to install floating solar panels. There are vast opportunities for the deployment of solar panels on water bodies. Lakes, ponds and impoundments account for more than 3% of the earth’s surface area. Reservoirs allow for seamless solar energy integration along with some placid river locations.
Many floating solar plants have been already installed and are operating successfully worldwide. Most of these plants were installed post 2014. Though the initial cost of installation is generally higher when compared to conventional land based PV projects, the cost of floating structures is also going down in western countries like the UK as the number of such installations has increased rapidly.
The overall financial dynamics of solar on water bodies look appealing. While there are savings, definitely, in the form of cost of land and water conservation, improved efficiency and sustainable energy production are other major benefits.
In fact, some projects have reported a 10%+ increase in output levels too. This is because water naturally cools down the temperature of the operating solar panels which in turn improves panel efficiency.
A 1 MW floating solar plant in India could not only save nearly 35 million litres of water and reduce about 1,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, but also produce 18 lakh kWh of electrical energy per year.
Solar on water bodies also comes as a boon for drought stricken regions in major countries like the USA, Middle East, Asia, and Africa where availability of drinking water supplies has now become a challenge. The technology can reduce evaporation by as much as 90% in dry climates and 1 MW of floating solar plant is estimated to result in 70,000 kilolitres of water savings in a year.
Solar on water bodies is also finding increased application as floating power plants, in effluent treatment centres and aquaculture farming. Water and wastewater utilities, municipal corporations and industries can benefit from new floating solar power systems which are economically viable as well as eco-friendly.
Solar companies should look at designing self-sufficient floating structures that do not require any additional structures and are fully functional with an integrated mounting structure. In fact, our product comfortably grips the panel and acts as a balancing cradle that holds it while adhering and reacting to the fluidity of the water underneath. There is no need for additional fasteners or any other additional structures. Its unique Uni-Body design provides an integrated yet flexible platform to mount the solar panel along with allowances for regular human access for operation and maintenance.
Floating solar or solar on water bodies is slowly but steadily gaining recognition worldwide. Though installation, maintenance and transmission are expected to cost more, it saves on real estate which is not only scarce but also expensive in economies like India. The land area required per MW of installed solar power is around 20,200 sq. meters.
We believe that floating solar power generation systems have tremendous potential for both social and economic advancement of local and global communities. Our product can act as an innovative solution to the above problem.