Feasibility Index for Canal Top Solar PV Systems in Pakistan
When it comes to developing countries like Pakistan, we often hear about problems like energy crisis, lack of rural electrification, population explosion and scarcity of land. Canal top solar PV systems provide us an option to tackle all these problems in a single go. Basically, the idea is to install solar panels on top of a moving water body. Apart from saving land area for alternative purposes it enables us to produce localized electricity and cut down tremendous amounts of transmission losses. The cooling effect, of moving water bodies, enhances the efficiency of panels on top while the panels provide all-important shade to the water body below, keeping it safe from evaporation. The water saved by preventing evaporation can be used for alternative purposes like irrigation. Canal top solar PV systems can possibly revolutionize the agricultural sector by providing localized energy for water pumping.
Benefits of canal top solar PV systems are plenty, but careful inspection of the installation site is necessary in order to get a good return on investment. Natural properties of the canal like its terrain and dimensions are vital. The wider the canal the more robust the supporting structure required. On the other hand, uneven terrain makes it difficult to establish a firm base for the supporting structure. Apart from the canal’s natural properties, climatic conditions are also important and ample supply of solar irradiance is still the limiting factor. Similarly, there are other factors like availability of infrastructure and governing rules, regulations and policies that can directly determine the success of a canal top solar PV system. In this thesis, we will formulate a methodology to calculate feasibility index for canal top solar PV systems. This index will consider all the relevant natural (climate, canal terrain) and required (infrastructure) factors. Appropriate methodologies will be investigated and used to model each of these factors. The final value of the feasibility index will be normalized such that it will be indicative of the probability of success of a canal top solar PV system. The feasibility index would be helpful in identifying suitable locations for canal top solar projects in Pakistan.