Tata Power and Sunengy to build floating solar technology
MUMBAI, MARCH 22: Tata Power has entered into a partnership with
Australian solar power company Sunengy Pty Ltd that will allow the
Australian company to build a pilot plant using its low-cost, floating
(on water) solar technology in India by this year-end. Tata Power's
wholly owned Singapore-based subsidiary, Trust Energy, has picked up
equity in Sunengy, but the details of this development were not made
The liquid solar array (LSA) technology effectively turns a dam into a
very large battery, offering free solar storage and opportunity for
improved water resource management. "Moreover, LSA needs no heavy
materials or huge land acquisitions and is effectively cyclone proof,"
said Mr Phil Connor, Sunengy Executive Director and Chief Technology
Officer, also inventor of the technology. The technology uses
traditional concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology – a lens and a
small area of solar cells that tracks the sun throughout the day, like
a sunflower. Floating the LSA on water reduces the need for expensive
supporting structures to protect it from high winds. The lenses
submerge in bad weather and the water also cools the cells which
increases their efficiency and life-span.
Mr Banmali Agrawala, Executive Director, Tata Power said "In our quest
to deliver sustainable energy, Tata Power is consistently investing in
clean and eco-friendly technologies. We have partnered with Sunengy
for a pilot plant in India, which is concentrated photovoltaic solar
technology and floats on water. This nascent technology will be
demonstrated in natural environment; utilises the water surface for
mounting and does not compete with land that can be used for other
purposes."Sunengy Chairman and Executive Director of Business
Development, Mr Peter Wakeman, said Tata Power has partnered Sunengy
for its interest in its patented (LSA) technology.
Mr Wakeman said the primary objective for LSA is to provide industrial
scale electricity via hydropower facilities. The technology could also
be used at mining sites, villages and remote communities which are
currently reliant on diesel generators.
Construction of the pilot plant in India will commence in August 2011.
Sunengy plans to establish a larger LSA system in the NSW Hunter
Valley in mid-2012 before going into full production. Preliminary
tests of units for India would be done at CSIRO Energy Centre in
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Mr Connor said that when LSA is
located on and combined with hydroelectric dams, it provides the
breakthroughs of reduced cost and 'on demand' 24/7 availability that
are necessary for solar power to become widely used.
According to Mr Connor, hydropower supplies 87 per cent of the world's
renewable energy and 16 per cent of the world's power but is limited
by its water resources. LSA installations could match the power output
of a typical hydro dam using less than 10 per cent of its surface area
and supply an additional six to eight hours of power a day. Modelling
by Sunengy shows that a 240 MW LSA system could increase annual energy
generation at the Portuguese hydro plant, Alqueva, by 230 per cent."If
India uses just one per cent of its 30,000 sq km of captured water
with our system, we can generate power equivalent to 15 large
coal-fired power stations,"