India may see its first floating solar power facility by 2014. The innovative design is being developed by a team led by SP Gon Chaudhuri, director at Development Consultants Private Limited and vice chairman at Calcutta Institute of Technology.
The team has submitted a request to develop the first prototype in a pond located at the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. The demonstration project will include solar panels fitted onto a platform with hollow containers that will enable it to float. The station will require around 3,000 square feet of space to generate approximately 10 kilowatts of power.
“Developing a floating solar power station would prove to be a revolutionary step as it could solve the perennial problem of land. Such pilot projects are also going on in a few countries such as France and Australia,” Choudhury told The Hindustan Times.
“Studies have also shown that if the rear surface of solar panels are kept cooler, then their ability to generate power goes up by 16%. As these solar panels would be floating on water, they are expected to stay cool and hence we can generate more power than those set up on land,” Choudhury said.
If the pilot proves successful, Choudhury said the next step would be to develop floating solar facilities on the reservoirs and dams of some of India's hydroelectric power stations. Such installations would not only add to the generating capacity of existing renewable energy plants, but could also help meet demand and conserve water during dry seasons.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in India is funding the project, which is aimed towards helping the country to establish a cleaner, more diversified energy grid. About 211 gigawatts of electric capacity is currently installed in India, most of which comes from coal-fired power plants. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, India is the fourth-largest energy consumer in the world.