Gujarat lights up canal with 10 MW project


The Gujarat state-owned Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. (SSNNL) is poised to build a 10 MW solar power generation plant over the Sardar Sarovar canal.

The project follows SSNNL's development of the waterways system, which provides irrigation to the regions of Saurashtra and Kutch in Western India and its 1 MW canal-top project in Narmada, which became operational last year.

The new project is slated to cover nearly 10 kilometers (6 miles) of the canal and will generate around 16 million units of electricity per year, which will be fed back into the grid. Investment in the project by SSNNL is reported to be INR120 crore ($19.5 million). The plant's location has not yet been released but is expected to be the Vadodara district.

The earlier Narmada project, Gujarati energy minister Saurabh Patel told DNA India, had been highly successful and it was planned for the new project to replicate that success. The government of Gujarat owns SSNNL wholly. Other states have been pushing on developing solar power, such as Punjab awarding 250 MW of projects to 26 developers in July. Previously, pv magazine reported on India's heavy investment in solar power.

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The project has a number of side benefits such as that in building above the canal, the project will save millions of liters of water from evaporation. Also, as no acquisition of land is required, the project saves money while avoiding disputes that have arisen in the past. And because the project has multiple sustainability attributes, it is reportedly more likely to receive investment from multinationals such as the World Bank.

Solar generation is a large part of the Gujarati economy and recent developments such as a proposed cut in the solar feed-in tariff indicates a rapidly-increasing supply.

Canal-top power generation has an extensive history in India, with the state of Punjab in the north of the country developing the concept back in June 2011. However, no progress from that project was ever reported. More recently in eastern India, the Damodar Valley Corporation unveiled plans to cover nearly 2,500 kilometers of its irrigation canals with solar panels.

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