Northwest Indian state Haryana is following in the footsteps of Gujarat to harness solar power from its irrigation network.
The state has launched an extensive feasibility study for installation of canal top and canal bank solar power plants.
“Experts from HAREDA and the irrigation department are conducting surveys to identify suitable locations across the state for the installation of solar power grids,” Balraj Singh, the director of Haryana Renewable Energy Department (HAREDA) has told the Indian daily Hindustan Times.
The installation of solar panels atop and along canals is considered economical both in terms of land use and conservation of water.
Such projects are able to optimally utilize unused space besides reducing evaporation by shading water in the channels from direct sunlight.
Gujarat installed a first-of-its-kind project in 2012 and successfully operated it.
Panels were set atop a one-km stretch of Sanand-Kadi Narmada branch canal.
And the project was to generate 16 lakh units of clean electricity annually, which was adequate to meet the domestic power requirement of 16,000 families.
In January, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon inaugurated another canal-top solar energy plant in Vadodara, Gujarat, as part of measures to expand renewable energy capacity of the state.
According to HAREDA director Singh, Haryana, too, plans to utilize its vast network of canals for solar power projects.
“Utilities will buy power from the proposed canal-top solar plants. Solar energy is expensive and canal-top model would involve higher costs due to peripheral structures. But its benefit of being non-polluting is an attractive part,” Singh said.
However, the economical viability of the projects will be one of the key factors taken into consideration before the projects are given the go-ahead.
Ajith Kumar S