Grid-connected floating solar panel units will be deployed in 10 reservoirs as part of a larger programme aimed at tapping the renewable energy potential of the State.
The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has invited requests for qualification (RFQ) from solar power developers for installing floating solar panels in eight reservoirs managed by it and two under the Kerala Water Authority (KWA). The initiative is to be implemented on a design, build, own and operate model with a period of 25 years.
The eight reservoirs under the hydroelectric projects of the KSEB selected for the floating solar programme are Ponmudi, Kallarkutty, Sengulam, Kallar, Kundala, Madupetty, Anayirankal and Banasurasagar. The Aruvikkara and Peppara reservoirs in Thiruvananthapuram district are the two reservoirs under the KWA.
From this project, the KSEB is eyeing a minimum of 100 MW, R. Suku, director (Renewable Energy and Energy Savings), KSEB, says. KSEB has unveiled its first reservoir-based floating solar facility in the Banasurasagar dam reservoir in Wayanad in 2017.
Being a State that produces just 30% of its daily power requirement, Kerala is eyeing solar power in a big way for augmenting domestic generation. Given the State’s geographical peculiarities, scarcity of land is a hindrance in establishing large solar farms. On the other hand, the presence of a large number of waterbodies and reservoirs opens up possibilities for floating solar plants or ‘floatovoltaics’, according to the KSEB.
According to the KSEB, its hydel reservoirs are spread over thousands of hectares. The surfaces of these waterbodies can be partially used to commercially tap solar photovoltaic power, the KSEB notes.
“After a preliminary assessment of technical and environmental feasibility, a detailed bathymetric survey has to be done to map the underwater topography such as depth of bed from the surface and presence of stumps of submerged trees that is usual in dams,” the KSEB notes in a November 20 order giving the go-ahead for the initiative.