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Solar Panels over Canals in India, which prevent Water Evaporation and Increase Panel Efficiency

Solar Panels over Canals in India, which prevent water evaporation and increase panel efficiency

Solar energy stands as a beacon of sustainability in the global pursuit of clean, renewable energy sources. However, its widespread adoption often encounters a significant hurdle: the need for expansive land for solar panel installation. In densely populated countries like India, where land is at a premium, innovative solutions are imperative.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious targets for solar energy adoption, coupled with India’s burgeoning population and limited land availability, underscore the urgency for creative approaches. One such solution gaining traction is the integration of solar panels with existing water infrastructure, particularly over canals.

This report delves into the concept of canal-top solar panels in India, exploring their benefits, challenges, and potential impact on energy generation and water conservation.

Solar Panels over Canals in India, which prevent water evaporation and increase panel efficiency
📷 Getty Images

Background

India’s commitment to solar energy is exemplified by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to increase the country’s solar investment target to $100 billion. With the goal of solar power contributing over 10% to the nation’s energy mix by 2022, India is on a trajectory towards renewable energy leadership.

However, the challenge lies in balancing energy demands with land constraints, exacerbated by India’s status as one of the world’s most densely populated countries.

Canal-Top Solar Panels: An Innovative Solution

Recognizing the scarcity of land for traditional solar installations, energy firms in India have turned their focus to unconventional spaces, including irrigation canals and rivers.

By deploying solar panels above water bodies, on canal walls, and even offshore in reservoirs, these firms aim to maximize land efficiency while leveraging existing infrastructure. Canal-top solar plants offer a dual advantage: optimizing land use and mitigating water evaporation.

Solar Panels over Canals in India, which prevent water evaporation and increase panel efficiency
📷 Getty Images

Benefits of Canal-Top Solar Panels

Efficient Land Utilization: Canal-top solar panels present a cost-effective alternative to traditional ground-mounted systems, utilizing otherwise unused space above water bodies. A ten-megawatt plant, for instance, can conserve approximately 16 hectares of land, a precious resource in densely populated regions.

Water Conservation: By covering canals with solar panels, significant reductions in water evaporation can be achieved. Studies indicate that a ten-megawatt canal-top solar plant could prevent approximately 90 million liters of water from evaporating annually. This conservation of water resources is crucial in a country like India, where water scarcity is a pressing concern.

Increased Panel Efficiency: The presence of water beneath canal-top solar panels helps maintain lower temperatures, thereby enhancing panel efficiency by an estimated 2.5 – 5%. Cooler operating temperatures contribute to improved performance and longevity of solar panels, amplifying the overall effectiveness of the system.

    Solar Panels over Canals in India, which prevent water evaporation and increase panel efficiency
    📷 The Canal Top Solar Plant Trial Project – Gujrat, India

    Challenges and Drawbacks

    Higher Initial Costs: Despite their numerous advantages, canal-top solar plants entail higher initial construction costs compared to conventional ground-mounted systems. This is primarily due to the need for specialized infrastructure, including galvanized supports to mitigate corrosion risks from prolonged exposure to water.

    Maintenance Challenges: Operating solar panels over water bodies introduces unique maintenance challenges, including potential corrosion, debris accumulation, and access limitations. Regular inspection and upkeep are essential to ensure the longevity and optimal performance of canal-top solar installations.

      Solar Panels over Canals in India, which prevent water evaporation and increase panel efficiency
      📷 Getty Images

      Canal-top solar panels represent a promising avenue for addressing India’s dual challenges of land scarcity and water conservation while advancing its renewable energy goals.

      By harnessing the synergy between solar power generation and existing water infrastructure, India can unlock a sustainable pathway towards clean energy adoption.

      However, overcoming the initial investment hurdles and implementing robust maintenance protocols will be critical to realizing the full potential of canal-top solar installations.

      As India continues its march towards a greener future, innovative solutions like canal-top solar panels stand as beacons of progress in the global fight against climate change.

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