First Floating Solar Power Station in India

A floating solar power station is due to be tested in Kolkata, India. An expert team is currently working on the prototype which is funded by the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

The project is scheduled to be installed in a pond in Victoria Memorial in the city of Kolkata in India.
Wikimedia Commons/Nabarunsadhya

A demonstration project involving the installation of a floating solar power station is currently under development by a team led by SP Gon Choudhury, Director at Development Consultants Private Limited (DCL Group) and Vice Chairman at Calcutta Institute of Technology. The prototype involves solar panels and other components that are fitted onto a platform with hollow plastic or tin drums that enable it to float on water. The prototype is said to be able to generate 10 kW of power and will occupy 100 square meters. The project is expected to be commissioned by 2014.

The project is scheduled to be installed in a pond in Victoria Memorial in the city of Kolkata in India. According to the local media “The Hindustan Times”, Choudary stated, “Studies have also shown that if the rear surface of solar panels are kept cooler, then their ability to generate power goes up by 16%. As these solar panels would be floating on water, they are expected to stay cool and hence we can generate more power than those set up on land”.

The floating solar platform is being funded by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and is said to be the first of its kind in India. Choudary hopes to expand the scope of the project beyond the park in Kolkata. “We have written to the Victoria Memorial authorities so that their ponds could be utilised for the project. Requests have also been sent to a few other state government agencies and departments so that the water bodies near Patuli and Science City off the EM Bypass could be utilised,” Choudary added.

Reservoirs and dams of hydroelectric power stations are also attractive spots for the floating solar power generator. “This would not only help conserve water for the dry seasons when power generation goes down because of lack of water but would also help us generate extra power – solar and hydro from a single station,” he added.


Crowdsource Funding: Could Communities Develop their Own Solar Arrays?

Guest Post

You may have seen some of the crowdsource funding sites such as Kickstarter launch great ideas for many people. These sites are geared to encourage visitors to “invest” in an idea or project in return for some of the success from the project. These returns are generally left up to the person asking for money and usually have a scale of different levels of what you can get gauged by how much you put in.

As Solar Mosaic plans to raise money for installation of solar panels on a military base through crowdfunding efforts, it leaves some with the idea of doing the same for communities. What’s to stop a rural community from buying its own solar array? That depends on how much money the community can come up with. What are some aspects that could accompany a crowdsourced project of this magnitude?

1. Cooperation – A deal of some kind would almost certainly have to be developed with local power companies. As it would be unlikely for a community to fund 100-percent of its power needs from pure solar energy, the power company would still be relied upon to balance out the low production periods. Since the power company could stand to lose a great deal of money, stipulations would almost certainly be guaranteed.

2. Reduced Bills – Since less power would be tapped from the grid based on the efforts of the power company, energy bills of the community should plummet – depending on the capacity that is obtained from the crowdfunding effort. Of course, this would also entail additional intervention by the power company as there would need to be a method to monitor how much power is being used on the grid between the different methods of generation.

3. Cash Commitment Arguments – At some point, someone may bring up how it may seem unfair that someone who funded $5 gets the benefits from someone who funded $1,000. This could create a great deal of animosity. However, there may be ways around such problems if the power company is included in the plan. Discounts on power bills could be offered to customers based on the dollar amount that was vested. For every $10 funded from an individual, he or she would get a certain dollar amount deducted from their bill each month. The plan could go so far as to give a percentage discount based on the percentage a person contributed based on the whole cost. This is somewhat elaborate, but ultimately more fair to those who contributed great amounts of money.

4. Visualized Progress – When a power company adds a 2-percent surcharge in order to build a solar array, the community doesn’t see the progress for some time. Are these surcharges going to remain even after the array is built? It all boils down to trust. With a community operated project to build the array, everyone can see the progress at any time. The money can be accounted for as the development continues. No extra surcharges, no fees and no unanswered questions as to where the money is actually going.

Once communities and neighbors realize that they have more control in their areas than they do, many things could change. While neighborhood watch programs increase safety in various areas, crowdfunding for solar arrays could be just as valuable. The power will literally be in the palms of the community’s hands.

Author Bio:
Stephanie has many years of experience as a nanny. She has always loved children and has continuously been involved in childcare activities. Currently she is one of the writers for

Rechargeable flow batteries could be cheaper solution to renewable energy storage

© Felice Frankel / MIT

Researchers at MIT have developed a battery that could bring us reliable and cheap large scale energy storage. Based on flow battery technology, the researchers took out the costly membrane and created a battery that has a power density that is an order of magnitude higher than lithium-ion batteries and three times greater than other membrane-less systems.

MIT reports, “The device stores and releases energy in a device that relies on a phenomenon called laminar flow: Two liquids are pumped through a channel, undergoing electrochemical reactions between two electrodes to store or release energy. Under the right conditions, the solutions stream through in parallel, with very little mixing. The flow naturally separates the liquids, without requiring a costly membrane.”

The reactants used are liquid bromine and hydrogen fuel, which is cheap, but also has had issues with breaking down the membrane in other flow batteries. By taking out the membrane they were able to speed up energy storage and extend the life of the battery.

“Here, we have a system where performance is just as good as previous systems, and now we don’t have to worry about issues of the membrane,” says Martin Bazant, a professor of chemical engineering. “This is something that can be a quantum leap in energy-storage technology.”

As we bring more renewable technologies like wind and solar into the grid, affordable and reliable energy storage is increasingly important. While solar and wind energy output varies based on weather conditions, large scale energy storage systems can smooth out the power delivery from those technologies by storing any excess energy when it’s produced and using it when the output is lower or demand is higher.

“Energy storage is the key enabling technology for renewables,” says Cullen Buie, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “Until you can make [energy storage] reliable and affordable, it doesn’t matter how cheap and efficient you can make wind and solar, because our grid can’t handle the intermittency of those renewable technologies.”

MIT says, “Braff built a prototype of a flow battery with a small channel between two electrodes. Through the channel, the group pumped liquid bromine over a graphite cathode and hydrobromic acid under a porous anode. At the same time, the researchers flowed hydrogen gas across the anode. The resulting reactions between hydrogen and bromine produced energy in the form of free electrons that can be discharged or released.

The researchers were also able to reverse the chemical reaction within the channel to capture electrons and store energy — a first for any membraneless design.”

Now that the team’s experiments have lined up with their computer models, they’re focused on scaling up the technology and seeing how it performs. They predict that the technology will be able to produce energy costing as little as $100/kWh, which would make it the cheapest large scale energy storage system built yet.

By Megan Treacy  Courtesy:

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5 Big Industries Battery Storage Tech and Solar Power Could Change Forever


by Bill Roberson

After all the hoopla around Elon Musk’s Hyperloop plans last week and his general enthusiasm for all things battery and solar powered, I got to thinking more about some blue-sky ideas about other aspects of travel and transportation that could be changed with these burgeoning sources of electricity and electric propulsion.

Here’s what I came up with.
1. Trains

Trains, like cars, are essentially an ancient but proven technology. Steam-powered locomotives date from about 1814 and horse-drawn rail systems go back quite a ways before that. Despite a popular (and patently false) tale that modern rail gauges are based on the width of a Roman chariot, rail systems have modernized within their paradigm as the years have gone by. Not many people know this, but a modern train in the United States is closer in operating principle to a toy electric train set than the glorious steam engines of old. That’s right: modern trains run on electricity.

Rather than pulling power from electrical wires overhead like some hellaciously fast Euro and Japanese trains do, modern diesel-powered locomotives use their engines to generate electricity which then powers electric motors to drive the locomotive’s wheels. So why not supplement or replace the liquid fueled- electricity source at times with some solar and battery power?

Elon Musk said he wanted to put solar panels on the Hyperloop to power it, but covering the whole thing with photovoltaic panels might generate too much power so that was a work/concept in progress. That’s a lot of power. So how much solar power is pelting the rooftops of a regular old freight train hauling a mile’s worth or boxcars? With a standard boxcar being 60 feet long by about 10 feet wide, that’s a lot of solar space. Using thin-film, lightweight solar panels, it would not be a stretch to hook all that power up and route it back to the locomotives, which could then either run in the flat on solar power alone, saving huge amounts of fuel, or in a hybrid mode for ascending grades. If the locomotives and rolling stock all had regeneration and storage ability descending a grade, that power could be largely reclaimed.

A lightly modified boxcar and locomotive design could incorporate the panels into the roof along with a small (500-pound, 20KWh?) battery into each car (and any kind of train car could carry a battery) to save the regen juice and use it when needed or at night. Steam engines carried tons of coal in a coal tender behind the locomotive, why not a dedicated battery car holding a few megawatts of juice?

Such a redesign of a train’s running gear would require zero infrastructure changes (same tracks and controls) and little technological intervention since trains are run by computers for the most part already. Trains are already wired together for data transmission between pusher and puller locomotives and braking controls so the conversion there is easy. Indeed, any rail car could be self-propelling to some degree, changing a train’s motivation from simply pulling the rail stock as has been done for centuries to a computer-controlled centipede model where every car is a little engine that can. Self-powered rail cars could also be moved around a rail yard without the assistance of a yard locomotive.

Cost, as always, is a factor, but if a new boxcar costs $80,000 (a figure that seems to be accurate) and a battery plus solar array is $5,000 (at most), amortized over time and with fuel savings, it would pay for itself fairly quickly. After that, it’s just fuel savings gravy. The panels are up out of the way on the roof, there are no moving parts and the science is long done. Making the system modular would allow for easy upgrades of panels, batteries and motors.

2. Ships

Travel and trade by ship is as old as travel itself and the current state of the art for moving a lot of goods from port to port is container ships, some which are truly modern marvels in terms of size and power. But like trains, there’s a lot of solar power raining down on them all day so why not put all the square footage to use? Shipping containers are completely modular and typically serve for many years without damage, so mounting a thin, permanent solar array to the top of it would not require a drastic redesign, if any.

Crane operators stack the containers like LEGO bricks so a robust self-connecting power system built Read more »