Uttar Pradesh government is planning to install solar power panels above the state's expansive network of canals and water bodies to generate almost 13,500 megawatt (Mw) of solar energy.
The state is planning to forge long-term contracts with private sector energy majors for the purpose and prepare a roadmap for efficient management of solar power and water resources.
According to the UP Jalshakti minister Dr Mahendra Singh, with a view to making the state self reliant in renewable energy, the department was planning to draft a long-term action plan for harnessing the canals, reservoirs, embankments, fallow land etc to generate 13,500 Mw of solar energy.
Addressing an international conference on renewable energy here yesterday, Singh claimed the state irrigation department incurred an energy bill of nearly Rs 3,000 crore annually, which would also be saved with the planned solar power generation. He said that the excess power could be sold to the state grid for additional revenue.
The Jalshakti department has been constituted after merging 5 different departments, namely irrigation, minor irrigation, sodic land development, groundwater and Namami Gange, to centralise their functioning for deriving better results and faster decision making.
The irrigation department has a network of 75,000 km of canals, 33,800 government tube wells, 92 reservoirs and 281 lift irrigation canals, which are planned to be exploited for solar energy.
Under the preliminary proposals, canal-top solar plants would be installed over canals, while the selected reservoirs would be equipped with floating solar plants for tapping solar energy. The department has also estimated that for generating 13,500 mw of solar energy, 27,000 hectares of canal area and 150 hectares of the reservoir span would be required.
In August 2019, the state cabinet had cleared the proposal of renewable energy majors ReNew Power and Shapoorji Pallonji to collectively invest Rs 750 crore in a 150 mw floating solar power project in UP. It is not only touted as the first such project in the state, but also the largest floating solar project anywhere in India.
The project would come up at the existing Rihand hydro power project of UP Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UPJVNL) in Sonbhadra district. ReNew Power and Shapoorji Pallonji will develop 100 mw and 50 mw of the solar power capacity respectively. They will supply solar power to UPPCL for the next 25 years after commissioning at the rate of Rs 3.36 per unit.
Recently, chief minister Adityanath had tasked the energy department officials with preparing a roadmap for securing the future energy needs of the state, so that UP became self reliant by 2031.
The state government has estimated UP electricity demand to breach 30,000 mw by 2031, which therefore needs proper planning to ramp up energy production capacity, signing new power purchase agreements (PPA) and economising on power transmission and distribution.