The world has already accepted renewable energy (especially solar) as future mainstream energy instead of fossil fuels. And now global energy moves show an interesting pattern that highlights global intent of utilizing the solar energy through engineering innovation.
To make a positive change in the energy scenario, the world really needs more focus on rapid solarisation. And floating solar is a successful attempt to achieve that purpose.
The Inception and Potential
The first floating solar plant was installed in Korea on Geumgwang reservoir in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province in 2014. The plant had a 465 kW energy generation capacity and consisted of 1,600 solar modules. The inception brought insight on the benefits of such installations. And in 2015, Japan announced the installation of then largest floating solar plant, comprising of 9,000 solar panels. However, within 2016, a much bigger installation of floating solar plant (consisting of 23,000 panels) was inaugurated on Thames, capable of producing 6.3 MW energy.
Incredible growth of Indian solar industry has made the country a major solar player, estimated to become the third biggest solar market worldwide by FY 17-18. Indian solar industry has shown 145% growth in 2016 over the previous year. And it is estimated to add 8-10 GW solar capacity in FY 17-18, displaying nearly 90% year-over-year rise.
Solar industry in India is growing at an incredible rate. From current solar capacity (13 GW) to aggressive pipeline (14 GW under construction and 6 GW to be auctioned), and Government policies to make green energy a mainstream energy source is impressive, inspiring even. The industry growth is supposed to realize the vision of ‘energy reliance’, which is one of the few reasons behind India’s solar revolution. However, lack of quality inspection mechanisms (till now) and influx of imported modules have introduced the question of long term performance of the solar projects.
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi’s setting the solar energy target to 100 GW by 2022 has given Indian solar industry the leg up it needed, leading to current 13 GW capacity. India has, practically, doubled its solar capacity from 5 GW in 2015 to 10 GW in 2016. And, the country is estimated to add approximately 8 GW at the end of 2017. The growth trajectory is incredible indeed, and India is on its way to become the third largest solar market!
India has made a quantum leap reaching approximately 9 GW in 2016 from a meagre 10 MW in 2010. Government departments and private players working in unison has helped in scaling such an achievement. However, intense competition has led to tariff wars, resulting in very low tariff rates. This trend dates back to December 2011 when a foreign company bid Rs. 7.49 for projects under NSM. 6 years later we are standing at Rs. 3.64 bid for 750 MW (250 MWx3) solar project in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. Although, low solar energy tariff firms up the hope of reaching countrywide solar grid parity with conventional energy, bidders are finding it tough to get funding. Banks and private lenders are inching away from financing solar projects in India due to lower tariffs, seeing it as a cost risk. To explain the situation in a single sentence, we can say that low tariff rates in the solar industry are introducing high cost financing issues to the developers and industry players.