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Այսօր`  երեքշաբթի, 03 օգոստոսի, 2021 թ.
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Solar arrays on canals

Ani
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Ani
18:08, հինգշաբթի, 15 հուլիսի, 2021 թ.
Solar arrays on canals

Solar panels have been installed on canals in India as a novel way to provide renewable energy for farming without using agricultural land. Since most of India’s large canal systems have small, grid-connected hydroelectric plants, such projects benefit from easy grid availability.

According to Premier Energies Executive Director Sudhir Moola, canal-top solar plants have a generating capacity of at least 10 GW.

Moola told PV magazine, "India has about 120 major canal systems covering a length of around 10, 097 kilometres."

"Even if only half of this canal’s length (approximately 5, 000 km) is appropriate for canal-top solar, we can build 2 to 3 MW per kilometre of the canal, assuming a canal width of 15 to 20 meters. This means that we will build 10 GW of canal-top solar power systems, saving more than 40, 000 acres of land."

PV panels on canals also have a cooling effect by shading canals, which reduces evaporation losses, he said.

Power of canal

In 2011, the Gujarat state government began looking into canal-top solar in India as a way to increase renewable energy production while preventing land conflicts.

This resulted in the commissioning of India’s first canal-top solar project in Chandrasan village, about 45 kilometres outside of Ahmedabad.

With the aid of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd., Gujarat State Electricity built a 1 MW PV plant on a 750-meter stretch of canal. It has since completed 35 MW of such projects, with a tender for another 100 MW of canal-top solar power in the works.

In 2014, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) launched a pilot project scheme with state-run agencies to build 100 MW of grid-connected solar PV power along canals and their banks.

The scheme supported canal-top PV initiatives and canal-bank installations with viability gap funding (VGF) . As of March 31, 2019, 50 MW of solar PV projects on canal banks and 44 MW of solar PV projects on canal tops had been completed. The program has since been terminated.

"A shadow-free stretch of canal with an ideal width between 20 and 30 meters is required for canal-top solar installation, " said Pulkit Dhingra, founder and director of AHA! Solar, a digital solutions provider for project management. "Development and maintenance are made easier with a motorable road along the canal. Although a north-south canal flow is optimal [for getting the most production from the panels], panels can also be installed in an east-west direction".

Canal-top projects are more expensive than ground-mounted and floating solar plants because they require support systems that span the canals’ widths. End-to-end or without touching the canal ends, such structures may be built. Inside the canals, piers can be constructed and panels placed on them in the latter method. It’s important to build piers inside the canals for larger canals, such as those in Punjab.

Another choice is to install the modules with high-tensile steel. Premier Energies is the only company in India to have used this method, which it implemented in a 1 MW canal-top system in Uttarakhand in 2017.

Key challenges

Excessively wide or narrow canals pose challenges for cost-effective system design.

Moola said, "In a typical land-based project, you can build columns that are three to four meters long, which is the span of the structure." "In a canal, you can have one column post at the bottom to support the structure and one more on the other side to support the structure. As a result, as the span lengthens, the form of structure the column supports increases dramatically."

According to Dhingra, the canal width should be between 20 and 22 meters to keep structural costs down. Access to the canal should also be possible thanks to the support system. Given the restricted access to panels, module cleaning, operations, and maintenance may be difficult.

According to Dhingra, the canal width should be between 20 and 22 meters to keep structural costs down. Access to the canal should also be possible thanks to the support system. Given the restricted access to panels, module cleaning, operations, and maintenance may be difficult.

Premier Energies, according to Moola, maintains a structure-to-structure gap of 4 to 5 meters. Pipelines to pump water from canals would be able to fill the void left by this. A floating pontoon may also be used to desilt and clean canals regularly.

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