World's first canal-based solar power project in Gujarat

• Pilot project to generate 1 Mw of solar energy • This concept tackles modern-day challenges of energy and water security

23rd April, Mehsana District, Gujarat, India: Following the stupendous achievement of the Gujarat government last week - dedicating 600 Mw of solar energy to the nation, the State government is yet again proving its dedication to energy from renewable sources by inaugurating the world's first canal-based solar power pilot project in the State. Hon'ble Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr Narendra Modi, will be inaugurating this 1 Mw pilot project tomorrow at Chandrasan village in Mehsana district of the State from where the Narmada Canal flows.

This project has been developed by Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL), with full support from Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) which is the nodal agency behind construction of the Naramda canal that brought agricultural prosperity to the State. The engineering, procurement and construction contract for the project has been awarded to Sun Edison, a subsidiary of US-based global solar energy player, MEMC. The 750 metre stretch of the canal will generate 1.6 million units of clean electricity per year, as well as prevent evaporation of 900,000 litres of water per year from the canal.

Commenting on this innovative initiative, Mr DJ Pandian, IAS, Principal Secretary, Energy and Petrochemicals department, Government of Gujarat said, "The canal solar concept tackles two of our most pressing global challenges: energy security and water security. We have always believed in using technology to save our natural resources and at the same time create energy to power our industrial, agricultural and social development. This is just a first step towards giving energy security for future generations."

Today, Gujarat has about 458 kilometres of open main canal, while the total canal length including sub-branches is about 19,000 kilometres; the final aim of SSNNL is to construct a total of 85,000 kilometres of canal network. Assuming a utilization of only 10% of the existing canal network of 19,000 kilometres, it is estimated that 2,200 megawatts of solar power generating capacity can be installed. This implies that 11,000 acres of land which would otherwise be needed to site solar panels as well as 20 billion litres of water per year can be potentially conserved.

As of 31st January 2012, Gujarat is the leading state in India in terms of renewables with installed capacities from renewable sources of solar power at 600 Mw and wind power at 2580 Mw.

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