Key notes on floating solar in India from Deepak Ushadevi, Managing Director (Part 1/2)
How Floating Solar can change the dynamics of renewable energy sector?
FSPV is gaining a lot of traction recently and it has influenced environmental/economic/social section more than any other renewable segment.
- Minimizes water evaporation (water& ecosystems conservation),
- Improves water quality and reduces algal bloom,
- Make PV possible when there is a lack of space
- Converts unused spaces into profitable areas,
- Enhances electricity generation (thanks to the cooling effect),
- Reduces grid-connection costs and major infrastructures investments
- Preserves valuable lands for other uses,
- Rehabilitates contaminated areas with clean energy,
- Compatible with recreational activities,
- Environmental amenity, positive aesthetics
A third pillar to the Solar PV sector, this is the appropriate sentence to describe floating solar importance in the renewable energy sector now. With the following advantage, FSPVs can change the current dynamics of the renewable energy sector: FSPVs are Land neutral, Reduce water evaporation, Higher gains in energy production due to lower temperature coefficients, Less soiling losses, lower O&M Expenses, ease of implementation, and Hybrid power generation with Hydel power systems. India has huge untapped potential for floating solar, and this can be effectively envisaged with proper planning and the right vision. Standards on ground-mounted and rooftop solar projects are well established and proven. Today those standards are used as references for floating solar plants by most of the stakeholders. However, we need to develop an international dedicated standard for floating solar plant design: this standard must be defined based on field test results, analysis, and theoretical and empirical study. Those new standards must allow building safe FPV while doing viable and profitable investments. We believe proper Guidelines and regulations are needed to ensure that FPVs are done in a safe and proper manner. This will also allow to reassure investor on the technologies and master the risk and we are striving hard to get some standards to the Indian market to deliver benchmark projects. Ciel et Terre is also deeply involved all around the world, with authorities like CEA (France), NREL (USA) , NEDO (Japan), to put in place on-field testing and FPV instrumentation to deeply understand the behavior of FPV plant not only in a testing chamber but also on real scale installation.
How floating solar projects different in terms of installation and maintenance?
The installation is different and requires experienced engineers and technicians. The know-how of floating array load/ distribution and buoyancy is very crucial to implement and any wrongdoing during installation will be a disaster in the making. One has to visualize the site conditions. The use of appropriate tools, understanding the use of different make materials for each specific site, etc is very much essential while during installation. We are aware of the quality issues by other players owing to bad installation recently, as a whole, the onus is on us now to develop quality projects in India, and asset is protected for 25 years. Another aspect is on the O&M part. The cost is cheaper than a groundmounted system, as there is less soiling due to the water around, plenty of water availability for cleaning. Conventional brush cleaning would be reducing the O&M expenses. During engineering design suite creation, moisture prevention of electrical equipment should be tended to. All Equipment needs to be water-resistant and friendly with a moisture environment.
C&T India’s future plan
We consider India will be the biggest market for floating solar worldwide and therefore we are investing in new assets to provide our latest designs on a large scale. We believe floating solution will be one of the main enablers for the PV sector. Recently we started our international Global R&D centre in India to support worldwide projects, which provides us more technical robustness in terms of optimal technology, standards, testing, and quality control. Our target is to complete a minimum 2GWp installation with our Hydrelio® technology by 2023.
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Photo: Raw Water Pond, India | 5.4 Mwp