Having already started on their plan to install 10 megawatt (MW) solar plants on top of several canals, India has taken the creative use of space one step further and is planning on floating a power station on one of the large stretches of water in Kerala, a state in south-western India.
This floating solar power technology was developed by India's Renewable Energy College and the plant is being built by Indian energy company, the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC). The first plant is scheduled to be commissioned in October this year.
"NHPC had contacted us for offering technical know-how and installation assistance for their proposed 50-mw plant,” said SP Gon Choudhury, chairman of the Renewable Energy College, to Andrew Tarantola at Gizmodo. “Each station would require around 3000 square feet [914 square metres] of space to generate 20 kilowatt of power. There are many water bodies that could be used for this."
And it looks like there’ll be little environmental impact from the project, as Choudhury explains:
“The ecology of the water body is not likely to be affected much and it will also reduce evaporation, thus helping preserve water levels during extreme summer. Solar panels installed on land face reduction of yield as the ground heats up. When such panels are installed on a floating platform, the heating problem is solved to a great extent. This isn’t an ideal solution, it’s not as though we can go and cover the world’s oceans with photovoltaic cells, but it’s certainly a solid intermediary step until we get those space-based solar farms up and running.”
The project is similar to Japan’s largest offshore solar power plant, which was launched late last year. The 70MW Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant was designed as part of a move towards clean energy following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, and is located in Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture of islands.