BMC Planning a Floating Solar Photovoltaic Plant Near the Middle Vaitarna Dam

BMC Planning a Floating Solar Photovoltaic Plant Near the Middle Vaitarna Dam

Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is reportedly mulling the establishment of an 80 megawatt (MW) floating solar photovoltaic plant in the backwaters of the Middle Vaitarna dam. 

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This will be a part of the civic body’s plan to develop hybrid energy facilities on or near the dam under the periphery of the National Energy Security Programme. The BMC had proposed a 20 MW hydroelectric power plant on the Middle Vaitarna dam in 2012, while the proposal also made its way to the civic body’s budget this year. This means the inclusion of this new floating solar plant will provide up to 100 MW of power for agencies like BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport).  

Officials in the Water Supply Projects (WSP) department have said that the final call to establish the floating solar plant was taken on the suggestion of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. “After this, we started exploring options like setting up floating solar panels on water supplying lakes. The feasibility was checked and since at the Middle Vaitarna dam we were already setting up a hydropower project, it was found that floating solar panels can be set up there. Following this a combined tender for both power plants have been invited,” a senior official from the WSP department said. 

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Despite having a surface of more than 10 sq km on its backwaters, the Middle Vaitarna dam, only 30 per cent of it can be used by the floating solar panels required for the power plant. Officials said that the restrictions are in place to avoid environmental impact. It is said that this solar plant will take up to 31 months to complete.  

A BMC official said that they are currently in the process of hiring a contractor for the floating solar plant at the Middle Vaitarna dam. The official also said that the agency/company that receives the contract for this project will oversee the operation and maintenance of the power plant for a period of 25 years. The 102.4 meters tall Middle Vaitarna dam finished construction in 2012 with Mumbai receiving 455 million litres of water daily from the dam.  

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