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World's largest Floating Solar Plant at Omkareshwar Dam, Madhya Pradesh: Key features, significance and other details

Why in News?

The World's largest Floating solar energy project is to be constructed at Omkareshwar dam on Narmada river and will be operational by 2023. 

About the largest solar power plant:

  1. It would be a 600 MW plant based on utilising solar energy
  2. The plant would be located on Omkareshwar dam in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh
  3. The panels are capable to adjust their position automatically when the water levels of the dam are low.
  4. The project will be requiring an investment of 410 million dollars which is equivalent to INR 30 billion. 
  5. Three agencies namely International Finance Corporation, World Bank and Power Grid would be providing aid for the project.
  6. India has completed the primary feasibility study of the project in collaboration with the World Bank.
  7. The project is likely to begin generation of power by 2022-23
  8. The floating solar plant would be designed in a way to withstand strong waves and floods while it would continue to generate solar power at the same time.

What is Floating Solar Plant?

A floating solar plant refers to an installation of solar power production that is mounted on a structure floating on a body of water. It may typically be on an artificial basin or a lake.

Types of Solar plants:

  1. FPV or Floating photovoltaic plant which uses photovoltaic panels mounted on the platform
  2. The concentrated solar power plant which uses mirrors to redirect the solar power to a tower.

Significance:

  1. No land required: The project is mainly advantageous as they do not consume much land. There are limited surfaces that are required for electric cabinets and grid connections. The price is almost equal to the land-based plants. 
  2. Installation and decommissioning: Floating Solar Power Plants are compact compared to land-based plants. Thus their management is easier along with their construction and decommissioning later. 
  3. No fixed structures are involved in this type of plant which leads to easier uninstallation too. 
  4. Water-Saving: The partial coverage of basin aids in the reduction of water evaporation. This result depends on climate conditions and the percentage of the covered surface. The water can be used for irrigation purposes too. 
  5. Cooling: The floating power plant allows the usage of a simpler cooling system. The cooling mechanism although is natural but also can be activated by generating a water layer on the PV modules or using submerged PV modules. 
  6. Storage is aided through the presence of water. The plants use gravity energy storage mainly while coupling with hydroelectric basins. 
  7. Environment friendly: A side advantage of such a plant is in the containment of algal bloom, a serious problem in industrialized countries

Background of Floating Solar Plants:

Companies in America or Danish, French, Italian and Japanese companies were among the first ones to register their patents for floating solar plants. Italians registered their first solar floating plant in 2008. 

The first floating solar power plant in India was installed in 2014 in Kolkata, West Bengal. This 10 KW floating solar plant was then funded as a pilot project by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) of India. It was the success of this project that led to many other institutions and government bodies trying the installation of floating solar plants on various water bodies. Currently, the largest installation is of the 500 KW plant installed at Banasura Sagar reservoir in Wayanad, Kerala.

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FAQ

Which state is the largest producer of solar energy in India?

Karnataka is the largest solar energy producer in India

Which city is known as the solar city of India?

Chandigarh is known as the solar city of India

Where is the World's largest Solar Park situated?

Tengger Desert Solar Park, China is the largest solar park in the world.

Where is the largest floating solar plant situated in India?

The largest plant is in Kerala, Waynad district

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