Vikram Solar completes India's first floating PV plant

India-headquartered module manufacturer Vikram Solar has successfully completed the installation and grid connection of the country’s first floating PV power plant.

The R&D installation has been developed in collaboration with the Arka Renewable Energy College in Kolkata with the aim to create solar PV system that is suitable for connection on any body of water.

The Vikram Solar installation produces a minimum power generation of 14 MWh/year from its 10 x 1 kW fiberglass modules and has been securely anchored to the lakebed, which is located in Kolkata’s New Town area. Vikram Solar also confirmed that the installation has been designed to last 25 years and is grid-connected via a submersible cable.

"The project underlines Vikram Solar’s strong track record and efforts to make solar energy available everywhere and for everyone – even in the remotest and most challenging environments, such as water," said Vikram Solar’s head of business development and engineering, Miguel Monsalve.

According to Gon Chaudhuri, former MD of West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) and former advisor to the Indian state power department, the project has already attracted keen interest from ministers and engineers.

"A team of experts is coming from Lakshadweep to take a look at the project, as a similar project will be undertaken up there," said Chaudhuri. "Land is required for setting up any power plant, but a floating solar panel doesn’t require any land since it is set up on a waterbody."

Japan – which has pioneered floating solar PV projects due to acute land shortages – leads the way in this field. In 2013 French EPC Ciel et Terre installed a 1.2 MW floating installation in Okegawa, and the company is also involved in a groundbreaking (not literally, though) 13.4 MW floating PV project penciled in for Japan’s Yamakura Dam.

This project will see Ciel et Terre attach 50,000 Kyocera modules to its patented Hydrelio floating platforms, with a completion date scheduled for March 2016. Once completed it will be the world’s largest floating PV installation for just a few months – California’s Sonoma County is expected to have a 15 MW project up-and-running by fall 2016.