Scribble-pad calculations show that India’s ambition of 60 GW of ground-mounted solar plants would call for 1,215 sq km of land, or twice the area of Mumbai. There is always the lurking fear that solar might eat into agricultural lands. Even wastelands are not truly ‘waste’ — there could be alternative uses, such as for growing fodder. However, it is possible to achieve most of India’s solar ambitions without using up much land. How? By putting solar plants on water. According to India’s National Register of Large Dams, the country has 4,862 large dams (whose walls are at least 15 metres high.) The Register counts 59 of them as ‘Dams of National Importance’. The waters impounded by only these 59 spread over 12,732 sq km is as large as 22 Mumbai’s. The reservoir area of the 5,000-odd dams will be a mind-boggling number. Can floating solar power plants be put in them?
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