Maharashtra: Govt plans first canal-top solar power project in at Jalgaon

  • The state government is planning to set up the state's first grid-connected canal top solar power project in Maharashtra on the Waghur project at Jalgaon. The 7.5 MW solar photovoltaic power plant will be installed on the left bank canal of the dam with private participation with various revenue and power sharing models being looked at. To overcome the resistance of locals for land acquisition and harness the state's solar energy potential to the optimum, Maharashtra's new renewable energy policy which aims at creating 14,400 MW of fresh grid-connected capacity in the sector by 2019-20, has paved the way for installation of solar panels on irrigation canals. Of the 2,500 MW solar power to be developed by the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (MahaGenco) with private parties, 10% capacity will be based on water bodies like canals and lakes.

  • The move will reduce evaporation of water from the canals and benefit end-users like farmers. This will be on lines of canal top solar projects developed on the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited's canals in Gujarat which use grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.

  • A senior state irrigation department official said the solar panels would be installed on frames on the top width of the canal. The official said this would be the first such canal-top solar power project in Maharashtra. "This will be done on the first 10km of the right bank canal," he added, stating that the project was estimated to cost around Rs 75 crore. "However, the electricity generating efficiency for these solar projects installed on water bodies is better," the official noted.

  • He added that they were planning to bid out the project based on tariffs (both, with or without the union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy funds) or consumptive use. "We may also opt for a model where we get a share in tariffs or use some of this power to electrify our nearby lift irrigation schemes. We are yet to decide on the final model," the official said, adding that they would soon issue expressions of interest (EOI) for private partners once this was done. The first canal-top solar power project (1 MW) in India was developed in 2012 by the Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL) on the Sanand branch canal of the Sardar Sarovar dam in Gujarat. Among others, the work on another installation at Miyagam branch canal in Gujarat is underway under the grant-in aid scheme of the Japan government to generate another 10 MW of this clean energy.

  • Maharashtra accounts for 64.32 GW of the country's assessed 748.98 GW solar power potential. However, the official said that in terms of the total commissioned grid-connected solar power capacity in May 2015, Maharashtra lagged behind with just 363.7 MW capacity under various schemes out to India's total 3,883.507 MW installations. States like Rajasthan (1,047.1 MW), Gujarat (1,000.05 MW) and Madhya Pradesh (563.58 MW) have stolen a march over the state, he lamented.

  • Maharashtra accounts for 13,500 MW of India's assessed renewable energy potential of 89,411 MW (excluding solar energy). It presently has 6,721.38 MW of installed green energy capacity, including 4,442.05 MW in wind, 1,448.40 MW in cogeneration, 157 MW in biomass, 287.72 MW small hydro, 22.51 MW in municipal solid waste, industrial waste and sewerage and 363.7 MW in solar energy. It is one of the seven states endowed with good solar energy potential.

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