Floating solar projects are gaining momentum in the country as over 1000 megawatts (MW) of six new projects have been initiated in 2024, as part of the country's goal to reach 500 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2030.

In the last fortnight, while Bihar invited bids for a 10 MW floating solar project on the Durgawati dam, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation invited bids to develop a 100 MW floating solar project on the Morbe dam near Panvel, in Raigarh district of Maharashtra. In early March, Larsen & Toubro had won a ₹606 crore Engineering, Construction and Procurement (EPC) contract for the Solar Energy Corporation of India's (SECI)'s 100 MW floating solar project to be set up at Getalsud dam in Ranchi, Jharkhand. In February, NTPC invited EPC bids for a 26 MW floating solar project at NTPC's Sipat thermal power station in Chhattisgarh.

THDC India's 100 MW project at Kadra dam in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh's 490 MW floating solar projects in Birsinghpur and Omkareshwar reservoirs, NTPC Renewable Energy, SJVN Green Energy and Hinduja Renewables project to set up 300 MW floating solar project at Omkareshwar dam are some of the recent new large floating solar projects that are into the construction phase.

Sources say as of now only about 300-320 MW of floating solar has been commissioned in India. In February 2023, R K Singh, Union Minister for Power, New and Renewable Energy informed Rajya Sabha that 2458.55 MW of 17 floating solar projects had been either commissioned or were under different phases of implementation. New Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), which studied India's potential for floating solar projects in 2020, had estimated India's reservoirs have an 18,000 square kilometre area with a potential to set up 280 gigawatts (GW) of floating solar projects. TERI calculated the potential for floating solar photovoltaics (FSPVs), or 'floatovoltaics', based on 30% of the water surface area of the country's medium and large reservoirs. It estimates Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are the top three states in terms of potential for installations of FSPV.

Sources say while the global installed capacity of ground-mounted solar is more than 1,000 gigawatts (GW), it is less than 10 GW for floating solar. This is mainly because floating solar installation costs are at least 25-30% higher in comparison to land-mounted solar projects and technology is yet to mature. In floating solar projects, solar panels are installed on floating structures on still-water bodies like lakes, reservoirs, and ponds to save space. It is estimated that a 100 MW solar farm will require between 500 and 1000 acres of land, a major component of the project cost. Another advantage is floating solar improves the efficiency of the solar panels due to the cooling effect of water evaporation and by covering water surfaces, it reduces losses from evaporation.

The commissioned projects included NTPC's Ramagundam in Telangana (100 MW), Kayamkulam in Kerala (92MW), 25 MW each at Simhadri in Andhra Pradesh and Kawas in Gujarat and a 20MW project at NTPC Auraiya Gas Power Station reservoir in Uttar Pradesh.

Some of the major projects under implementation included DVC Floating Solar Park Ph-I ( DVC) with 755 MW at Panchet and Tilaiya reservoirs and 234 MW coming at Maithon reservoir in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand, 600 MW Omkareshwar Floating Solar Park ( RUMSL) coming at Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh and NHPC's 300 MW coming up at Rengali Reservoir in Angul, Orissa.

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