Floating Solar On Fast Lane With Start of Work On 100 MW NTPC Ramagundam Project

With Work finally starting on NTPC Ramagundam’s Floating solar project, with a planned capacity of 100 MW, floating solar is back in focus. The Ramagundam project is being built on the balance reservoir of NTPC’s Ramagundam Super Thermal Power Station, with a nameplate capacity of 2600 MW itself. The reservoir itself gets its water from the Sriram Sagar Project, a critical water project for Telangana state.

The project is being executed by another public sector undertaking, BHEL, which has already started the process for selection of contractors for the BOS of the project, besides the main project itself.  BHEL is also executing a 22 MW floating solar plant at the Rajiv Gandhi Combined Cycle Power Project (RGCCPP) at Kayamkulam in Kerala.

The Ramagundam project is the second largest floating solar project in the country, after the 150 MW plans for a project on Rihand Dam reservoir, where Renew Power and Shapoorji Pallonji Infrastructure Private limited are expected to build 100 MW and 50 MW respectively for the Uttar Pradesh government. Power purchase for the Rihand project has been firmed up at Rs 3.36 per unit. Incidentally, the reservoir provides water for NTPC’s Rihand thermal plant, itself rated at 3000 MW.  Work progress on this one has been tardy, leading one to conclude that the Ramagundam project will probably generate energy first.

The Ramagundam project, located at a pollution hotspot thanks to the massive thermal plant, will hopefully be a precursor to multiple such projects across the country, close to existing thermal plants.  Thanks to the presence of power evacuation infrastructure that exists near such projects, the cost of floating solar projects can be controlled much better, instead of building such capacities on say, tracts of the country’ canal network. Of course, there is also the irony in having these zero pollution plants come up nest to heavily polluting thermal plants.

In this publication, we have consistently argued for a more long term approach to India’ thermal power dependency, and making a clear plan to phase out the older projects. Floating solar plants on their balance reservoirs is definitely one way to utilise the land they occupy better.

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