The Indian state of Gujarat is planning to expand on its revolutionary initiative to cover canals with solar panels. The state government already has a 1 MW canal-top solar power project operational. A number of other states in the country are also planning to emulate this program which saves water and generates electricity as well.
The state government is planning to set up a 10 MW solar PV project over the Sardar Sarovar canal which supplies water to the arid regions of Saurashtra and Kutch. The state government is pushing for the project as it is expected to save millions of litres of water from evaporation.
There are other advantages of the canal-top solar power projects. There is no need to acquire land for the project which can been a contentious issue in India and represents a substantial share in the capital cost of solar power projects. Since these projects carry more than one sustainability attributes multinational lenders like the World Bank may be more inclined to provide cheap finance to the projects.
While Gujarat is the first state to set up canal-top solar power project in India, Punjab (in north India) was the first state to come up with the concept. Such a project would have had a substantial benefits in Punjab in terms of water conservation as it is an agricultural state. No progress on the project has been reported in recent years though.
The Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), in eastern India, has an even more ambitious plan. The company plans to set up 1,000 MW worth of solar power capacity by covering 2,494 kilometres of the irrigation canals. The company hopes to rope-in the World Bank for financing.
The central government and governments of other states must also look to promote such projects which provide multiple sustainability benefits and do not require the developers to acquire any agricultural land for setting up projects.
Title Image Credit: Gujarat canal-top solar power project / Credit: Hitesh vip | CC BY-SA 3.0