The Top 5: Upcoming Floating Solar Power Projects in India

Highlights :

  • Omkareshwar Reservoir will host the largest among floating solar power projects in India and the World
  • Floating solar power projects overcome the major challenge of land acquisition faced by solar projects on land
The Top 5: Upcoming Floating Solar Power Projects in India Floating solar panels in Kariba Dam, Zimbabwe to come up

From the founding member of International Solar Alliance in 2015 to installing over 50 GW of solar power capacity, India has come a long way in harnessing this renewable form of energy. With some of the biggest upcoming floating solar power projects, India further looks forward to add to its already surging solar capacity.

The South Asian leader had set a target of installing 100 GW solar capacity by the end of 2022. Yet, by the end of December 2021, India’s cumulative installed solar capacity was just 55 GW. About 77 per cent of that came from grid-connected utility-scale projects. The rest came from grid-connected rooftop solar (20%) and mini or micro off-grid projects (3%). Consequently, in August 2021, the government extended its target to a 300 GW Solar power for 2030. At the Glasgow climate summit (CoP26) in November 2021, the country further announced that India’s non-fossil energy capacity will reach 500 GW by 2030, meeting 50% of the country’s energy requirements by then.

Solar power is one of the best options for India to derive its renewable energy from. While solar park installations on land are much common, they are marred with few challenges. Some of these are land acquisition, grid connectivity, regulations and off-take.

Advantages of Floating Solar Power Projects

Floating solar power projects deploy the photovoltaic panels on the surface of water bodies. Thus, they address the land acquisition issues, leaving the land for other essential uses like agriculture. The cooling effect due to water proximity is another merit of the system. This improves the performance of solar photovoltaic panels by 5-10%, thus leading to significant cost savings over the time. Other plus-points include less grid interconnection costs, less water evaporation, improvement in water quality, and a reduction in algal blooming.

Thus, as a viable alternative to solar installations on land, India has also been making progress in floating solar power. Following are the top upcoming floating solar power projects in India – on planning stage, initial process, or partly under operation.

#1 Omkareshwar Reservoir (600MW)

State – Madhya Pradesh

The MP Cabinet granted approval for the development of Omkareshwar Floating Solar Park 600 MW in March, 2022. Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited (RUMSL) is the Solar Park Project Developer (SPPD) for the development of Omkareshwar Reservoir floating solar project.

The 600 MW capacity floating solar project on Omkareshwar reservoir is not only India’s but also the world’s largest floating solar project so far. Its total 600 MW capacity will comprise six units of 100 MW each of grid-connected floating solar photovoltaic projects. Moreover, it will also be a multipurpose project, fulfilling the objectives of land conservation and water conservation along with being useful for tourism, agriculture and industry. The results of the tender issued by RUMSL are expected to be out very soon, and depending on the outcome, the project could be operational as early as 2023-24.

#2 Ramagundam Reservoir (100 MW)

State – Telangana

The 100MW floating solar project at Ramagundam spreads over 450 acres of its reservoir on the premises of the existing thermal power project of NTPC. The total financial implication of the project is about Rs 423 crore, funding 40 blocks, each having 2.5MW. The project also has all of its electrical equipment, including inverter, transformer, HT panel and SCADA on floating ferro cement platforms.

Out of its total 100MW capacity, a commercial operation of 80 MW has already commenced, as of March 2022. The leftover 20 MW will become operational in coming months of 2022 itself.

#3 Kayamkulam Project (92 MW)

State – Kerala

The floating solar power plant of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Kayamkulam, will have a capacity of 92MW once operational. The work was awarded to two companies – Tata Power Solar (70 MW) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (22 MW). Out of the two, in March 2022, BHEL has already declared, the 22MW floating solar power project capacity it signed for, commercially operational. The system is being set up on the lake adjacent to NTPC’s Rajiv Gandhi Combined Cycle Power Project (RGCCPP). NTPC’s Kayamkulam floating solar power project was to become operational in 2021. But the delay in importing solar cells from China pushed the project ahead in time.

The project cost is Rs 465 crore. On its completion, it will be second largest floating solar power project in India after Ramagundam, Telangana. That is, of course, until the 600MW gigantic floating solar power project of Madhya Pradesh becomes operational in 2023.

#4 Getalsud dam project (100MW)

State – Jharkhand

Getalsud Dam Floating Solar Power Plant is a 100MW solar power project planned in Jharkhand. The project has been floating around since 2018-19, which Jharkhand state government approved in April 2021. With a stronger domestic ecosystem of suppliers, the project may just be able to see some real progress from its permission stages. By all the positive outlooks, the project construction is likely to commence in 2023. It may enter into commercial operation by, as late as, 2024. Notably, Solar Energy Corporation of India has been tasked with closing the process of selection and evaluation.

Recently, Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI) has invited bids to set up a 100 MW (AC) floating solar project, while SECI also intends to get part of the project finance from the World Bank.

#5 Rihand Dam (50MW)

State – Uttar Pradesh

The project is stuck to its initial stages since way before covid-19 struck the globe. Rihand Floating Solar Private Ltd is an SPV by Shapoorji Pallonji since it won a parcel of 50 MW in the tender for 150 MW of floating solar on the Rihand reservoir in 2018-19. The major setbacks for the project are, supposedly, a combination of logistics, the terrain, the issue of sourcing floating platforms domestically, or ultimately the onset of the pandemic. On completion, it will be among the biggest floating solar power projects in India, but serious progress remains a challenge. The best case scenario places full commissioning by 2024-25.

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Junaid Shah

Junaid holds a Master of Engineering degree in Construction & Management. Being a civil engineering postgraduate and using his technical prowess, he has channeled his passion for writing in the environmental niche.