Solar

Floating Solar Plants

Tania Tahseen

Tania Tahseen

Solar Performance Specialist

floating solar plants
Photo Credit: Jakson.com

Solar energy has the potential to make the world cleaner and more energy-efficient. The only thing holding this clean energy powerhouse back is space. Floating solar arrays, also known as 'Floating Photovoltaics(FPV)' or 'Floatovoltaics,' are gaining traction around the world as a green, renewable source of electricity.

Floating solar plants could produce clean energy without impeding land, water and wildlife. These futuristic solar farms are popping up in reservoirs across the world. This article will provide all the information about this innovative technology.

The concept of Floatovoltaics is simple: PV panels float on water rather than sit on the ground. The PV modules are mounted on platforms that float on water reservoirs, dams and lakes. The floating solar power plant is assembled by combining the solar module, buoyancy body, anti-rust material, including vertical frame, horizontal frame, footrest or mooring device and module mount assembly.

Floating PV components

Buoyancy Body & Floating Materials

Assembly of floating PV buoyancy

Image source: Kwater

Working of floating solar power plant

The floating solar system is an efficient, reliable and sustainable way to harvest solar power. In this system the PV modules are installed on a floating platform, which floats on the surface of water bodies. These floating PV systems can withstand a wide range of hydrological conditions and high wind speeds according to design conditions. The floating platforms are kept at static position with the help of anchors. The power generated is aggregated in the combiner box before it is transmitted to the inverter. After converting from DC to AC at the inverter the power is transmitted to load centers through power cables.

Source: Kwater

Advantages of Floating solar plant

  • Floating PV plants seem to be the best answer to the land consumption challenge of conventional PV systems, which rely on a large amount of valuable land.
  • Increased utilization of water bodies, i.e. reservoirs, canals and marines located at the outskirts of populated areas. Water resources are preferably utilized instead of being lost in evaporation, as well as being able to provide environmental services such as recreation and biodiversity conservation.
  • Floating PV installations have gained enormous popularity as a result of their easy construction and decommissioning. Installation of a floating PV plant does not entail fixed structure. This gives the advantage of a faster installation process.
  • With the rise in temperature, the efficiency of solar panels drops.When we install PV modules on water bodies, the water provides a cooling effect. This cooling effect boosts electricity generation output up to 8-10%.
  • Algal blooms can be a serious problem in either industrial or natural water basins. By installing floating PV plants the water bodies can be covered partially. This reduces light falling over the surface of water. Thus, reducing the growth of algal blooms.

Challenges associated with floating Solar plant

  • The system must be electrically safe and have long-term reliability over the course of its life. It must have a high corrosion resistance, especially if installed over salt water.
  • Floating solar plants are costly. The cost of installing a floating solar system is 20-25% higher than a ground mount solar system.
  • As both water and electricity are involved in floating solar systems, there is a high safety concern. As the cable will always be in contact with water, cable management and insulation must be given high priority before installation.
  • Floating solar plants have moving parts that are subject to friction and mechanical stress. Poorly constructed and managed systems may fail catastrophically.
  • An analysis of the topography of the waterbed and its suitability for anchoring floats is fundamental to developing a floating solar plant on a site. This makes site selection difficult and costly.

India’s top floating solar plants

There are few huge floating solar farms in India. Mostly in southern part of the country.

  1. Omkareshwar Dam floating solar farm(Madhya Pradesh) - 600MW
  2. NTPC Kayamkulam solar project(Kerala) - 105MW
  3. NTPC Ramagundam solar power plant(Telangana) - 100MW
  4. NTPC simhadri (Andhra Pradesh) - 25MW
  5. Tuticorin(Tamil Nadu) - 25.3MW

With the advancement in solar photovoltaic systems, floatovoltaics will play a significant role in expanding renewable energy generation. It is an environmentally friendly method to generate electricity as it offers good water and land management. This is a promising technology but it definitely requires time to evolve. In extreme summers, the floating system helps preserve water levels by reducing evaporation. By installing panels on floating platforms, the heating problem of solar panels on land is greatly reduced. Floating technology is long-lasting, cost-effective, flexible and takes less time to install. India has a huge potential for floating solar plants. With the advancement in technology, it can meet its power demand in future.

Two-thirds of Earth's surface is covered by water, so why limit solar growth to land? Look beyond!

Tania Tahseen

Tania Tahseen

Solar Performance Specialist

Sunson
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