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Solar panels atop irrigation canals to generate power

Solar panels atop irrigation canals to generate power

The Water Resources Department will soon open up select stretches of irrigation channels in the State for installation of canal-top solar panels to generate power.

The move follows the success of a pilot project to generate one megawatt (MW) of power by installing solar panels atop the Almatti Right Bank Canal (ARBC) in Bagalkot district.

The department will extend the pilot project by inviting private players to instal solar panels on more stretches of the 67-km ARBC and also 250-km Narayanapura Left Bank Canal and its distributaries across Yadgir, Kalaburagi and Vijayapura districts.

The State government is also keen on generating on its own 10 MW of power under the scheme. Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Limited (KBJNL) has been appointed the nodal agency for executing the project.

“We have written to the Centre on our keeness to generate 10 MW by installing solar panels on top of irrigation canals and the Ministry of Renewable Energy has given its go-ahead. The State will be provided subsidy of 30 per cent of the project cost by the Centre. Modalities of the project are being worked out. At the same time, we are planning to invite private players for their involvement in the project,” KBJNL director, Technical Sub-committee, Aravind Galagali, told Deccan Herald. Only modernised canal stretches have been identified for the project.


Pilot project
The pilot project of one MW in Bagalkot was awarded to Sunedison Energy India at a cost of Rs 10.45 crore. The project involved the installation of 3,280 solar panels on a stretch of 700 metres of ARBC. The panels fixed on steel structures across the canals measured 9.5 metres. DC power generated from the panels is fed into an inverter installed in a nearby inverter building. The inverter converts the DC power to AC power before being evacuated. The project was commissioned earlier this year and is evacuating one MW power to the nearby 110/11-kV Rampur substation.

Galagali said there were several advantages with regard to canal-top solar projects. Firstly, there is no land acquisition cost as land would have also been acquired for the canals.

Secondly, Galagali said, scientific studies have revealed that canal-top solar projects have 10 per cent higher efficiency in power generation than regular solar installations. The solar panels covering the canals prevent evaporation of water. Security provided to the canals double up as “watch and ward” for the canals, too, helping in curbing vandalism, illegal drawing of water and theft, Galagali said. India’s first canal-top solar project was commissioned in Gujarat in 2012 on the Narmada branch canal network.

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