Sri Lanka can gain from twinning floating solar and hydropower – WB

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The synergies from combining floating solar with existing hydropower plants can be significant and can add much-needed diversity to Sri Lanka’s power generation mix, the World Bank said.

Sri Lanka’s power mix could potentially benefit from greater solar power generation during the day and a switch to hydro in the night.

Seasonally, floating solar could produce power during the dry months while throughout the monsoon rains hydro could play a larger role in the energy mix.The World Bank logo is displayed on a mobile phone screen photographed for illustration photo. Gliwice, Poland on May 5, 2021. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)© Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto The World Bank logo is displayed on a mobile phone screen photographed for illustration photo. Gliwice, Poland on May 5, 2021. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

One of the first floating photovoltaic or PV systems was built in 2007 in Aichi, Japan, followed by over 30 other countries on all continents. There are now over 500 projects and in total over 2 GW in operation worldwide. Over the years, the projects have moved from smaller demonstration projects to significant scales, with large capacity additions in development for example in India, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and China – the largest market for floating solar PV.

Winding tracts of solar panels are also popping up over water canals in neighbouring India where solar installations have been shifted to unusual locations to navigate high land prices. A pilot project was touted in 2012, leading to the first large-scale canal-top solar power plant in the Vadodara district of Gujarat three years later. The Government rolled out the project as a Public Private Partnership (PPP).

Sri Lanka has also trialled a small pilot floating solar project, but its capacity is just some tens of kW. Experts believe that to reap economics of scale and for floating solar to make a significant contribution to power generation, projects need to be scaled up to about 100MW-200MW.

‘We think this technology can make a significant contribution to meeting the renewable energy targets of Sri Lanka. Over time, it can help lower the overall cost of electricity supply in the country and complement existing power generation capacities, in particular hydro,’ said the World Bank energy sector lead for Sri Lanka, senior energy specialist Jari Väyrynen.

For larger floating solar ventures, it is essential to focus on promoting well-structured and competitive procurement to drive down the costs. Adopting a strong policy framework from the onset is critical to manage risk, attract reliable and credible private sector partners as well as tap climate financing opportunities to help address barriers for implementation. (World Bank) AdChoices

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