India’s solar sector is witnessing a fierce battle among states to set records in solar energy production.
Rajasthan on Wednesday laid the foundation stone of the world’s biggest solar farm with generation capacity of 3,000 MW, tipping its neighbour Gujarat which had in 2012 announced largest solar farm with a capacity of around 2,000 MW.
The Rajasthan Solar Farm will have a dedicated zone for solar research and development and solar installations for pumping of water from the Indira Gandhi Canal along with providing power to the grid, in an area of 10,000 MW. The Gujarat Solar Park is also earmarked on similar lines but with lesser capacity.
A solar farm is spread over several thousand hectares of land where different solar technologies are installed for high energy output.
Another area of positive competition among the states that has emerged is having big capacity solar units. Madhya Pradesh is about to launch a 151 MW solar plant, just a MW more than a unit in Maharashtra.
“Madhya Pradesh increased capacity of the plant just to beat Maharashtra,” said a senior official of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, terming it one instance of increasing competition among states to do big on renewables.
Before Madhya Pradesh decided to enter the fray, Maharashtra had beaten its arch rival Gujarat, which had announced 130 MW solar plant to be funded by the Bill Gates Foundation.
Gujarat was also the first state to earn twin benefits from a solar system --- generating power and saving water loss from canals. It built a one MW power plant on Narmada Canal about 40 kms from Ahemdabad, which also meant saving about 20% of water loss because of evaporation.
West Bengal has come up with different innovation. It is setting up a floating solar power station at Victorial Lake, being developed by Calcutta Institute of Technology. The prototype involves solar panels and other components that are fitted onto a platform with hollow plastic or tin drums that enable it to float on water. Its benefit --- efficiency of solar panels will increase by 16% as water will keep its rear side cool.
Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary in the ministry of new and renewable energy recently told Hindustan Times that the state governments were using the solar potential in innovative ways to harness the renewable energy source.