If even 10 per cent of the 19,000 km-long Narmada canal network in Gujarat is used for setting up canal-top solar panels, it has the potential to produce 2,200 MW of solar power, save 11,000 acres of land that would otherwise be used and prevent 2,000 crore of precious water from evaporation annually, the Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, said.
Also, canal-top solar power equipment produces 15 per cent more power than the plant set up on land as the water flowing underneath keeps the solar panels relatively cool and helps generate more power, he said. He was inaugurating India's first 1 MW canal-based solar power project, commissioned on the Sanand branch canal near Chandrasan village of Kadi taluka, Mehsana district.
The State Government was compelled to take up this project through Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Ltd (GSECL), as no developer was ready to take the challenge at that time, he said.
The 1 MW plant, set up over a 750 meter-long stretch of the canal, commissioned in February, will generate 16 lakh units of clean electricity and prevent evaporation of 90 lakh litres of water from the canal annually.
The length of the Narmada Main Canal, constructed under the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), is 458 km. The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) has so far constructed about 19,000 km long canal network, out of the 75,000 km planned for the entire project.
Meanwhile, SunEdison India, which developed the canal-top project for GSECL, is promoting a new, sun-tracking solar panel technology in which the panels, like sunflower, follow the sun's movement across the sky. “It costs about Rs 2 crore a MW more than the traditional technology. Our 10 MW plant in Surendranagar district has demonstrated that it produces more power,” Mr Pashupathy Gopalan, Managing Director, told Business Line.
Interestingly, SunEdison has also installed a 15 kV solar power plant in Minwada village of Guna district in Madhya Pradesh, which is the only power provider to 75 families of the remote village. At present, SunEdison is producing 50 MW of solar power at various sites in India, including 45 MW in Gujarat alone, he added.