Hyderabad: India’s largest floating solar power project has now become fully functional at Ramagundam in Telangana.
Energy conglomerate National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has set up the 100 megawatt (MW) plant through Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) under Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract.
With the commercial operation of the final part capacity of 20 MW, the plant has been fully commissioned at Ramagundam in Peddapalli district.
The NTPC has set up the plant in the reservoir of its thermal power plant, saving valuable land resources, and also conserving water by reducing evaporation.
According to officials, this is the largest floating solar plant in the country in a single location. The presence of floating solar panels ensures that the evaporation rate from water bodies is reduced, thereby helping in water conservation.
The project is expected to help avoid approximately 32.5 lakh cubic meters per year of water evaporation. Similarly coal consumption of 1,65,000 tonnes and Co2 emission of 2,10,000 tonnes per year can be avoided.
Set up at a cost of Rs 423 crore, the solar photo-voltaic project is spread over 500 acres.
Equipped with advanced technology as well as environment friendly features, the plant is expected to ensure that the aquatic ecosystem is maintained while producing clean power.
According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the project is divided into 40 blocks, each having 2.5 MW. Each block consists of one floating platform and an array of 11,200 solar modules.
The floating platform consists of one inverter, transformer and a HT breaker. The solar modules are placed on floaters manufactured with High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) material.
The entire floating system is being anchored through special High Modulus Polyethylene (HMPE) rope to the dead weights placed in the balancing reservoir bed.
The power is being evacuated up to the existing switch yard through 33KV underground cables.
All major components of the solar plant like solar PV modules, floaters, biodegradable natural ester oil filled inverter-duty transformers, switchgear, SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) and cables are indigenous.
With the commissioning of the project at Ramagundam, the total commercial operation of floating solar capacity in the southern region has now gone up to 217 MW, NTPC said.
Under the floating plants, the photovoltaic panels are deployed on the surface of water bodies. They are considered as a viable alternative to land-based solar arrays.
According to NTPC officials, setting up floating solar units on water bodies and huge reservoirs help them in cutting down on the costs. Floating solar units prove to be cost effective when compared to ground-mounted plants.
The Maharatna company is preferring solar floating plants due to their advantages. It has plans to set up solar projects across all thermal power plants in the country.
One MW solar photo-voltaic plant on ground requires five acres of land and since land acquisition is becoming increasingly difficult, the NTPC is going for a floating method.
As South India has a large number of major reservoirs, NTPC Southern Region plans to focus on floating solar plants.
Experts say floating plants have many advantages. As water bodies exert a cooling effect, this improves the performance of solar photovoltaic panels by 5 to 10 per cent. This means a significant cost saving for the plant owners.
The other benefits include reduced water evaporation, reduced grid interconnection costs, low algal blooming and improved water quality.
The floating solar power project at Ramagundam is expected to give a boost to share of renewable energy in overall power generation in Telangana. The total installed capacity of renewable energy, including solar, in Telangana stands at around 4,000 MW.