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Big game-changer! How floating solar power may help Modi govt realise its renewable energy dream

As land availability presents a challenge, water surfaces may play a role in the Union government getting close to its target of 175,000 MW of renewable energy (RE) capacity by 2022, with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy planning to add 10 GW of such capacity across the country. This is part of a global trend which has seen floating solar gain traction with policy-makers and developers—the global installed capacity is projected to reach 4,600 MW by 2022 from 1,100 MW in 2018.

As per industry estimates, utilising only 10-15% of India’s water resources for floating solar plants could generate up to 300,000 MW of power. The Solar Energy Corporation of India has already called for tenders to build 150 MW of floating solar capacity on the Getalsud and Dhurwa dams in Jharkhand, besides inviting bids for a 250-MW floating plant in Tamil Nadu. The Uttar Pradesh cabinet recently cleared a 150-MW floating solar project on the Rihand dam, requiring an estimated investment of Rs 750 crore. According to sources, the Damodar Valley Corporation is planning to install 100-MW of floating solar plants at its dams in Maithon, Panchet and Tilaiya, located in Jharkhand and West Bengal. Significantly, while floating solar plants can be set up on any freshwater surface, building them on the reservoirs of hydroelectric dams helps utilise existing transmission infrastructure and lower construction costs.

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