Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has issued an expression of interest (EOI) for the development of 10GW of floating solar across India.

The plan is for this capacity to be set up in a phased manner over the next three years on a build, own and operate basis. Separately, SECI has also issued an EOI for 20GW of local manufacturing capacity.

Vinay Rustagi, managing director of Bridge to India, told PV Tech: “The EOIs are basically just a way of the government initiating a market consultation exercise. Both the ideas – floating solar of 10,000MW and integrated solar manufacturing capacity of 20,000MW – are pretty radical in our view. The timelines and the capacities indicated are also highly unrealistic. While the idea of seeking market feedback is commendable, unfortunately, we do not see how any of these ideas solves any of the major challenges facing the sector right now.”

Floating solar plant developers selected through the planned tender will be given “assured off-take of solar power generated from the projects through long term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA),” said the EOI. Power will be procured by SECI or authorised agencies and offered to various utilities.

SECI noted that India faces physical and legal hurdles regarding land acquisition when setting up ground-mount solar projects, so it intends to use the large availability of water areas on major reservoirs for floating PV to bypass this land issue. Several pilots have already been installed, including the largest so far in the country – a 500kW floating project in Kerala.

Under the EOI, SECI will gather information on the feasibility of such floating projects and prospective developers to help its forming of the call for bids for various capacities. SECI will also collaborate with state agencies to identify suitable sites across various water bodies and reservoirs.

Along with constructing and commissioning the projects in a specified timeframe, selected developers will also be required to obtain and maintain all consents, clearances, permits and approvals for the entire term of the PPA. However, SECI will attempt to help facilitate this activity as much as possible.

The deadline for EOIs is 5 January 2018.

An Adtech engineer on the 500kW floating project in Kerala told PV Tech in October that India has multi-gigawatts of floating solar potential across the ponds of its thermal power stations.

Article updated to include Bridge to India comment.

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