Solar arrays on sloping terrain


From pv magazine India

The Indian state of Mizoram now hosts a 28 MW (DC) solar plant, despite the challenge of sloping, uneven terrain with narrow strips of land separated by gorges. The plant is shaped like a hand, with 15 solar array fingers connected by a perimeter road and a 33 kV transmission line. 

The solar park is near Vankal, Khawzawl district. It spans 194 acres. The uneven terrain makes it difficult to install solar panels in a way that maximizes their exposure to sunlight. The orientation and angle of the PV modules needed to be adjusted to account for the slope of the terrain. 

“The plant is shaped like a hand palm with 15 fingers connected by a perimeter road and 33kV transmission line for power evacuation to maximize module installation while minimizing shading effectively,” Kamalesh Saraswat, a SAEL engineer, told pv magazine. “Overall, our thoughtful approach to the design of the entire solar power plant should help us achieve optimal energy production and efficiency.”

Via its wholly owned Sunfree North East Renewable Energy subsidiary, SAEL has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with the power and electricity department of the Mizoram government. SAEL’s in-house EPC team executed the plant installation and commissioning. 

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Saraswat said the main challenge was identifying the plant site, so the company could install the module mounting structures and achieve the desired capacity of the plant.

“Our team conducted a contour and drone survey of the entire area to identify the flat area, gorge, and steep valley area and optimize module angle through our latest software and tools,” said Saraswat. “We also followed the natural contour and minimized the steep area to reduce mismatch losses/efficiency of the plant.”

Mizoram experiences high winds and heavy rainfall, which can damage or dislodge solar modules, so the SAEL team provided additional structural support to ensure that the panels remained securely in place. The module mounting structure differs from conventional flat-terrain solar power plants. The plant feature high-efficiency mono-PERC modules and string inverters. 


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