A new policy for Solar energy is underway, which would incentivise investment in floating solar power generation. Though the technology needed is expensive, it is estimated that the government push would significantly reduce the overall cost.
The Current Status
A government official said, “Costs for floating solar plants are high, so we must support it more in terms of subsidy. We will start something soon”. The floating structures, on which the photovoltaic solar panels are mounted, are costly. The technology needed for floating solar module projects is still nascent in India. Our country has seen a very limited number of such installations. Global clean energy communications and consulting firm Mercom provides some insightful data. Out of the total 57.7 GW of installed solar capacity, India has only about 170MW of floating solar projects.
“Floating solar projects have good potential in India. But such projects will require government support by way of high subsidies to be attractive for investors. As the Centre is providing a 30% capital subsidy for rooftop solar, higher support may be required for floating solar projects to ensure its viability and investor interest,” said Amplus Solar managing director and chief executive Sanjeev Aggarwal.
According to the sources, the central government is considering a plug-and-play mode, where winning bidders can set up plants fast. It is because the infrastructure will be set up at differentiated sites before inviting the bids.
Last month in Telangana, India’s largest floating solar power project became fully functional. The 100 megawatts (MW) plant was set up by National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) under an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract.
The adoption of floating solar tech has its share of challenges. According to a top executive of a solar power generation firm, “Local manufacturing of floating solar panels is negligible and imports from Europe will be expensive. The policy should address this issue before we can witness big growth for such projects, more so, as supplies of solar modules from China are still limited and getting components for local assembly is becoming difficult as none of the Chinese vendors have made it to the government’s official list of suppliers “.
Despite having numerous challenges in terms of cost and installation, floating solar plants have a bounty full of advantages. They are environment-friendly as land-based solar energy generation needs vast stretches of land for panel set-up. But the floating ones drastically save the scarce land resource. They are more efficient (no overheating) and conserve water too (reducing evaporation). Amid the impending climate targets, the government move will boost India’s renewable energy capacity.