Clean Power

Published on March 24th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


India’s Solar Canals

March 24th, 2013 by  

Reposted from Solar Love:

I recently ran across this awesome image from Greenpeace International over on Google+:

solar canals

Luckily, the Google+ share also included a link to an Indian business site that had more details. The Hindu Business Line writes:

Close on heels of commencing use of wastelands in northern districts and rooftops in towns and cities, Gujarat is set to potentially use the existing 19,000 km-long network of Narmada canals across the State for setting up solar panels to generate power.

The Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, will inaugurate the first of a series of this project, known as Canal Solar Power Project, when he launches a 1 megawatt (mw) pilot project, which is already commissioned, on Narmada branch canal near Chandrasan village of Kadi taluka in Mehsana district on Tuesday.

However, this can’t be new, since the date on the article is April 23 (no year) and the next line is: “Last week, he inaugurated a 600-MW solar power project spread across 11 districts. This included a 214MW Solar Power Park, the largest such generation centre at a single location in Asia.” This occurred last April. I assume the canal solar project is now complete and solar power is being generated for the local communities, but I’m not actually finding any updates to the original story. So, for now, here are just some more details from The Hindu Business Line:

The pilot project has been developed on a 750-m stretch of the canal by Gujarat State Electricity Corporation (GSECL) with support from Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), which owns and maintains the canal network….

The pilot project will generate 16 lakh units of clean energy per annum and also prevent evaporation of 90 lakh litres of water annually from the canal….

The cost of per megawatt of solar power, in this case, is likely to be much less than the estimated Rs 10-11 crore, as the two banks of the canal will be used to cover the canal by installing solar power panel and the government will not have to spend much on creating basic infrastructure, including land acquisition….

When completed, the SSNNL’s canal network will be about 85,000 km long.

Assuming a utilisation of only 10 per cent of the existing canal network of 19,000 km, it is estimated that 2,200 MW of solar power generating capacity can be installed by covering the canals with solar panels.

This also implies that 11,000 acres of land can be potentially conserved along with about 2,000 crore litres of water saved per annum.

Seems like a logical combination.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • harpat

    A project should be judged by return on investment with due consideration for environmental benefits. There is a lack of transparency in the information published about the project. From whatever sketchy information is available, the solar projects are boondoggles and mostly waste of money. Some of the numbers published sensationalize the benefits but have no substance. For example 100,000 litres of water evaporation per annum would be prevented. Sounds impressive but it amounts to about 72 gallons per day. Even that is doubtful because water evaporates mor due to wind than sun. How much water can be saved by covering 750 meters out of several thousand kilometers of river? How much water ends up in the ocean anyway.
    There are lot of questions unanswered. Is the cost of structures to support the panels included? what about maintenance cost, preventing rust in structures, washing dirt and bird droppings off panels, Inverter failure and repair/replacement costs and even panel lifetimes (Poorly designed or improperly sealed panels can fail quickly). Even without these considerations, the ROI does not look good.The amount of power produced will be enough for perhaps less than 500 middle class homes. !6 lakh units per annum may sound very impressive.

  • Mohan Raj

    So Clean Electricity is generated and at the same time, the Water evaporation is reduced and also there is no need to cut down trees for land. In fact the panels can be placed above the railway tracks as well.

  • Otis11

    I’ve been saying they should do this with the canal moving water to Phoenix!

    Think about it – A city in the Arizona with some of the best irradiation in the US, and the water needs are completely supplied by a canal… Where better to locate them?

  • niladri mantena

    Mr. Modi is the ONLY Indian capable leader who can deliver on his word.
    The rest of them are mere corrupt dummies that milk India’s resources.

  • Please view (and sign) my petition on regarding a similar concept – putting solar grids above public roads. It’s at this URL:

    Any questions, please email me: – thanks!

  • Ronald Brakels

    There is plenty of room on roofs for solar power in India, but India’s solar is mostly utility scale and not rooftop for several reasons, one of the most important being that electricity is subsidised. This means it can be possible for a utility to save more money from installing solar panels than a household. (Of couse, provided they have a cut off switch, the household can enjoy solar electricity when the grid is down, so there is still an incentive for point of use solar.)

  • Very unique story… will have to work it into my news show if I can find a video of it…


  • Actually, Gujarat was not the first state to come up with such a project. Punjab had approved such a project in early 2011 but the project has been suffering from delays. The program will be more beneficial to Punjab than to Gujarat as Punjab has no or little wasteland to generate solar power (I discuss this in an upcoming article). Now another company, Damodar Valley Corporation (based in eastern India), is planning to set up such projects over its 2,000 km canal network.

  • In the US, there is so much space that can be “reuse” for PV that we wouldn’t need new land for a long time. Lots of big flat roofs, and parking lots. Cincinnati Zoo did their lot, now when you return from the zoo in the summer the inside of the car isn’t 150.

    • jlmur

      How cool.

    • sault

      There’s plenty of open land in the U.S. that just sits idle too. A lot of it is grass that requires wasteful mowing every now and then, like land surrounding airports and inside highway medians, and presents a continuous financial drain on the government / entity charged with mowing it. Covering this land with solar panels would either reduce the frequency with which it would need to be mowed or eliminate this requirement entirely.

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