Solar power generation over Gujarat canals in India

Harnessing
solar power over Gujarat canals Indian officials have developed a unique
approach to solar development, building a 4 km stretch of solar panels atop a
canal near the western city of Vadodara (formerly Baroda), which not only saves
arable land but reduces evaporation of scarce water. The 10-MW (megawatt)
plant, apparently the first of its kind anywhere, was inaugurated by UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Erected over a 22 meter wide irrigation canal,
the plant has 33,816 solar panels installed on a mounting over the water.



“Looking out at the canal top solar power
plant, I saw more than glittering panels – I saw the future of India and the
future of our world,” Ban said, adding, “I saw India’s bright creativity,
ingenuity and cutting-edge technology.” The plant is a part of the massive
Sardar Sarovar project, a hydropower and irrigation scheme designed to supply
water to 4.5 million acres of land through canals.  The Rs 1 billion project is financed by the
State government. On a sunny day in the habitually bright western Indian State,
it generates 50,000 units of power per hour.


 It is expected to produce over 16 million
units in the first year.  Generation is
expected to decline by 1 percent per year as the solar panels degrade. The
solar photo voltaic (PV) cells produce direct current (DC) that has to be
converted into alternate current (AC) for industrial and domestic consumption. To
distribute the electricity from the source, the AC also needs to be stepped up
to over thousand volts by the transformer. “The Vadodara canal plant has 14
converters and  nine transformers,”
said the chief engineer, Umesh Chandra Jain, who added that utilization of
solar energy can cut the use of coal, gas and other fossil fuel based power projects.
“India has an advantage of going for a solar mission as the country gets 70
percent more solar radiation than any European country. 

Moreover
a solar power plant can be erected very fast compare to other green power
projects,” Jain said. The entire output is presently scheduled to be consumed
by the Sardar Sarovar project itself, said SS Rathore, the project’s chairman
cum managing director. Sardar Sarovar was created by the State government in
Ahmadabad. The generated power of the plant is now supplied to the State grid
system and finally it has been used to run the irrigation pumps on the same
canal, he added. Gujarat chief minister Anandi B Patel told the local media
that the SSNNL was purchasing power from a different company, Gujarat Urja Vin
Nigam Ltd, at the a cost of Rs 6.48  per
unit, where prices were soaring annually. The new solar project is expected
to  generate power at rupees 7 per unit
for a longer period.
Ms
Patel, who succeeded Modi as the Gujarat government chief last year, also
pointed out that the project’s construction atop a canal means there were no
land acquisition costs. It is also expected to prevent evaporation of around 90
million liters of water in a year, which is significant for the water scarcity
State of India. The engineers also say the running water beneath the panels
provides cooling for power generation. Modi has pledged to provide electricity
to every Indian. Some 300 million people still lack electricity. He recently
announced that India  would promote similar
solar projects across the  country. 
The
government has also raised its solar power target from 20,000 MW to 100,000
MW  by 2022, while present Indian
capacity is over 3,000 MG. According to the International Energy Agency, the
solar panels have emerged as the fastest growing renewable energy technology
tools across the globe in the last decade. “The right approach to energy can
drive progress on all three pillars of sustainable development: economic
dynamism, social progress and environmental sustainability,” the UN chief said,
adding that, “Our vision and target through the sustainable energy for all
initiative is first of all to provide universal energy access to all 7 billion
people in the world by 2030, and double energy efficiency, and the use of
renewable energy by 2030 – doubled, in the global energy mix.”

 Ban also asked India to ‘come out with an
ambitious target to cut down carbon emissions. India is identified as a major
emitter of carbon to the air after the USA and China.”2015 is a historic
and most important year for the humanity as it could be the time we end
poverty, avoid worst impacts of climate change through sustainable
development.” (Source: Hans India).

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