3 MW Solar power plant for Tata Power at Mulshi: Ownership to make project a success
The contrast of a large solar array next to a lake is a true poetic homage to the astute engineering talent that Tata Power Solar instills in all their solar projects. Mulshi power plant, a 3 MW solar farm designed and constructed by Tata Power Solar in March 2011 can harness the power of sun and provide energy to over 2 million homes as it creates jobs and purpose for the local community. Over the last decade, Tata Power Solar has not only built multiple substantial utility scale projects, but also developed a technically savvy team capable of providing smart design solutions to meet changing customer needs. In addition the business development team is superior at liaising with local administrative bodies to ensure buyin of all stakeholders, leading to consistently successful ontime project commissioning.
Tata Power Solar commissioned a 3 MW power plant for Tata Power in March 2011 using the cells and modules manufactured inhouse. This is Maharashtra’s largest grid connected solar power plant built on 13 acres of land with the natural landscape of the site preserved, which continues to attract locals and visitors. The project was completed in a record time of 9 months and made operational in 2 phases – 1 MW and 2 MW, commissioned in January and March 2011 respectively.
Challenges and Solution
Tata Power Solar’ unique contribution in the project was to deliver a high efficiency solar power plant while maintaining the sanctity of the beautiful valley. Tata Power Solar worked closely with local bodies and addressed any concerns that came up due to the impact of the solar plant being adjacent to the Mulshi lake.
Challenging site location: The project site at Mulshi had a rocky terrain and there was the requirement to preserve the natural contours of the land. Tata Power Solar’ team adopted special grouting techniques to hold the pile foundation in place and the foundations were customized at various heights of 0.5-2 mts. due to uneven land surface. This was first of its kind project, where Tata Power Solar successfully implemented the project while preserving the natural landscape.
How to design without altering the natural landscape: The major challenge was to design the entire project in a way, that it preserves the sensitive natural topography of the region. The other insurmountable challenge is that the modules had to be aligned in a manner that they remain shadow free for maximizing the efficiency of the plant. Tata Power Solar designed project in a manner, that it met both the challenges successfully, the design involved erecting arrays of pedestals that were tailor made to ensure shadow free spacing between arrays of modules, while ensuring that the natural water channel was not disrupted during the ground mounting process; thereby maintaining the ecological balance of the site. Although this was a lengthy process, it guaranteed maximum plant performance without disturbing the natural topography.
Earn community trust and confidence: Any ecological disturbance in the valley would severely impact the local community, whose daily bread and butter is tourism. The local authorities and community had apprehensions about the deployment of a solar power plant in an eco-tourism site. Tata Power Solar project team followed a two prong approach to bring the local administrative bodies on board – first, it employed the local communities in different project functions and second, the local authorities as well as the community were educated on the benefits of having a sustainable source of energy in the form of a solar power plant and about the eco-friendly design. Tata Power Solar was successful in gaining the local’s confidence and in fact make them part of the implementation journey.
Promote job and growth within local community: Tata Power Solar believes in inclusion of the local communities in the project & locations they operate in. In this direction, Tata Power Solar has trained and employed the local community in the areas of project operations and maintenance, opening a new source of livelihood for the local people.
Power generation: The Tata Power Solar power plant supplies electricity into the 22KV grid line, which powers 2 million homes every ear, in the neighboring villages.
Eco tourism enhancement: The scenic Mulshi valley post the project execution still continues to attract locals and visitors for its beautiful landscape.
This project has enriched the Mulshi valley by harnessing solar energy to provide energy independence and cultivate a sustainable life for everyone at Mulshi.