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Published on November 13th, 2014 | by Mridul Chadha


Indian Company To Install World’s Largest Solar PV Project Over A Dam Barrier

November 13th, 2014 by  

It’s not as if India is running out of land on which to set up solar photovoltaic projects, but Indian companies are coming up with highly innovative project designs as they aim to get a bite of the expanding solar power market in the country.

Rays Power Experts has secured a contract from Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation to set up 20 MW of solar photovoltaic modules along the slope of the barrier wall of a gravity dam located in the western state of Maharashtra. The Morbe dam on Dhavari River is a gravity dam built to ensure water supply to nearby areas.

The dam wall is 3 kilometres long and has an earthen slope, and the company will make sure that any construction does not adversely impact the integrity of the dam, Rahul Gupta, the founder of Rays Power Experts told a national daily newspaper.

The construction of the project would be quite difficult, as the company would first have to prepare a firm foundation over the wall to which the mounting structures can be placed. While the company would like to disturb the wall as little as possible, it would also face the change of fixed incline of the barrier wall, which may impact the overall output of the solar panels.

The project is the latest in what is a growing list of innovative solar power projects being undertaken in India. Gujarat, the leading state in terms of installed solar power capacity, already has a 1 MW canal-top solar PV project and is working on a similar project with 10 MW of capacity.

Earlier this year, the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) Limited also announced that it will set up a 50 MW floating solar power project over a dam in the southern state of Kerala.

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About the Author

currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

  • Man this is a great idea. Hydro is expensive to operate. Not just turbines and power equipment, if the dam has that, but the dam and reservoir itself. That’s why so many dams in the US are getting razed. They were built with federal grants between 1930s and 1960s and handed over to municipalities or coops to operate. O&M just got too expensive. Federal funding, post capital outlay, has pretty much dried up. A new power source will help pay for the dam maintenance and if necessary dredging of the reservoir every so often.

    One concern I’m sure Indian engineers already worried about. Earthen dams are very precarious. If this was not engineered but cowboyed there’s is always a concern with futzing with the soil surface layer. Even if its engineered by geotechnical engineers or Beavers as they are called in the business, there’s still concerns. Something as simple as the impact of PV panels on water percolation into the soil can become an issue. Like I said, this is probably already dealt with using water collection at the base of each panel row. Or are the panels structured like they are on top of landfills, where they sit on the soil surface like a blanket?

  • Larry

    Makes total sense–especially if the dam was a hydropower dam. The electric transmission network would already be in place

  • JamesWimberley

    Clever. Nobody will complain about the loss of vegetation, as you don’t want it on a dam anyway. You need a dam facing more or less south.

    • For an earthen dam you need vegetation or layers of gravel and rip-rap. This is what keeps it from eroding away and failing. You don’t want trees with deep roots if there’s a soil cover. It all depends upon the perception and the slope, whether or not its soil with vegetative cover or gravel.

  • W[ll E

    good thing about Solar is
    you can start small and grow big.
    like the head
    worlds largest Solar PV installation in India.

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