An Electrifying Bid to Keep Solar-powered Hopes Afloat

Published: 14th August 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2014 08:59 AM   |  A+A-


KOCHI: A plan to build the world’s largest floating solar power project in the state took a major step forward after the Kerala State Electricity Board signed an agreement with a Special Purpose Vehicle, formed by the Kallada panchayat in Kollam, where the project site is located, and private landowners.

The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation(NHPC), which is setting up the 50 MW solar power project, is currently undertaking a survey of the land on the banks of the Kallada river and hopes to place solar panels over the waterbodies spread over nearly 250 acres in the region.

“We are undertaking a survey for the past two weeks which will conclude in a day or two. The proposed site for the project used to be paddy fields long time back. The farmers have sold the sand deposit to miners, resulting in depletion in the ground level,” Kanwar Singh, executive director (consultancy&joint venture), NHPC, told Express. If the ground level is too deep due to sand mining, it will be difficult to anchor the solar panels to the bed of the waterbodies, he said. Solar panels have to be floated on the water and they need to be anchored firmly on the ground to avoid their  motion on the surface of water.

The world’s largest floating solar power plant is located in Japan, where a 1.2 MW float power plant was set up by West Holdings Group over a reservoir in Okegawa City.

Singh said the survey will find information on water depth, sunlight in the area, buoyancy force etc and suggest the way forward. Buoyant force comes from pressure exerted on the solar panels by water.

It is estimated that 5 acres of land is required to produce 1 megawatt of solar power. The Kollam solar project would require 250 acres. The cost for the solar project is pegged at `7-8 crore per megawatt, making the total cost of the Kerala project `350-400 crore. A detailed project report is being prepared and, if approved, the project will be implemented in the next 2-3 years. Tendering process for solar panel manufacturers will take 8-10 months and another 10-15 months for execution, Kanwar said.

K Valsala Kumari, chief engineer, corporate planning & safety commissioner, KSEB, said as per the agreement with SPV, land would be provided to KSEB on lease for about 25-30 years. Though solar power costs `7 per unit, KSEB would be able to purchase the power at much lower cost.

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