Solar panels are usually installed on land which is otherwise of no use. Level surface  ground in one of the scarcest commodity in many countries and suitability of getting light is yet another criteria for selection. All these makes for exploring other avenue  which resulted in Floating solar  or precisely Floatovoltaics,  ie setting up of solar panels on a floating podium on water body. Here, the solar panels are built up and erected on floating supports, which are then attached as one to shape a bigger solar arrangement. It sits on water plane and is usually anchored to water bed. The electricity generated from floating solar plants is fed to inverters, generally placed on land, and can be fed into the grid as usual in similar plants.

Advantages of  Floatovoltaics

It helps to decrease water evaporation which is a prime concern where water availability is less. If the albedo is high, surface of Earth would be more reflective, more of the heat emission is send back to space, leaving the planet cool. When solar panels are installed on water surface, the quantum of reflection of radiation would be high, keeping the planet cool. Moreover, water surface perform as a natural coolant to the solar panels resulting increased generation of electricity. Also,  only general tools and plants are required for installation. Usually water bodies are less affected by external shades. Installation of solar panels in the middle of a body of water will not have any impacts of shades from objects such as buildings and trees. This increases the quantity of time that the array’s exposure to sunlight resulting increased electricity generation.

Challenges of floating solar panel.

A study of Renewable Energy in US observed an average difference in  operating temperatures of 7°C among land and water, and highest differences being  around 15°C. The maximum temperature of 70°C was observed in Roof top Solar {RTS} system compared to only 60°C on the water-based systems, demonstrating the natural refrigeration effect of water. The challenges in installing floating solar are much more when compared to that of a Roof Top Solar Syste.This is particularly more when the nature of river bed is unknown and type of anchorage; geotechnical issues etc play a crucial role. Another issue being the angle of installation of floating solar panel. Unlike in a RTS where such changes can be made without much difficulty, here a future change would be cumbersome. Hence an all season study must be done before attempting the design of installation.

Presently Floatovoltaics system concentrates on inland water bodies. But Developing countries are already exploring the possibility of installing solar panels on off-shore environments. Increased movement and shuddering caused by bigger waves, saline water traces on the glass plane of the panel, etc have to be studied in detail.

Floating Solar status in India- largest plant to come up in Madhaya Pradesh.

The Government of India intends to set up a 1,000MW floating solar park at Indira Sagar Dam in Khandwa for which assistance from World Bank is expected.The total cost of this project is estimated as 50000 Million INR. [750 Million U S Dollar.] Indira Sagar Dam — the biggest in Asia — has a surface area of approximately 265 sq. km., which is suitable for installing  up to 13,000MW, The other floating solar  project in India — a 100MW, run by NTPC Ltd in Andhra Pradesh. Renewable energy supplies to around one fifth of Madhya Pradesh’s electricity requirements. The 750MW solar power plant in  Rewa has a minimal tariff of just INR 2.97 per unit[0.042 US Dollar per unit], ultimately saves approximately  INR 1,6000 Million [225 Million UD Dollars] to the state government, and INR 7900 Million [115 Million U S Dollar]  to Delhi Metro, as one quarter  is supplied to Delhi Metro.

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