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Floating Photovoltaic Solar Energy

Floating photovoltaic solar energy

Another way to harness solar energy is through floating photovoltaic installations.

With floating photovoltaic (or floating photovoltaic system or simply floating solar) we refer to photovoltaic systems arranged not on land but in water. These systems are equipped with the same photovoltaic panels used for common terrestrial systems, but use specific technologies to float on bodies of water, which include:

  • Reservoirs
  • Basins for drinking water
  • Artificial lakes
  • Agricultural irrigation ponds
  • Wastewater treatment equipment
  • Sedimentation tubs
  • Quarries and mines abandoned and invaded by water.

This renewable energy variant also aims to generate electricity, but they offer a set of advantages compared to terrestrial photovoltaic systems.

Advantages of floating photovoltaic installations

Among the advantages associated with floating solar systems compared to non-floating systems are:

Minimum consumption of the soil: floating plants are built on water and, therefore, do not consume the soil by its nature, except for those parts that are used for connection to the general electricity grid. Nor do they foresee the construction of buildings and infrastructure that make it difficult to dismantle the pre-existing environmental state during the divestment phase.

Water saving: in the areas dominated by the systems (the coverage is, however, partial), the evaporation of the underlying water is limited by up to 80%. In the case of areas intended for irrigation or human consumption, it is possible to save large amounts of water depending on the coverage percentage of the basin and the atmospheric temperature.

Increased efficiency: studies and research carried out on the systems already in operation show that the performance of the panels is higher than the systems installed on land, where the high temperatures reached in summer near the ground reduce both the yield and The shelf life of panels. According to some studies, for the same size and other characteristics of the system, the electricity produced by a floating system compared to one on the mainland can increase from 7 to 15%.

Reduced maintenance: in the water, the panels do not need the frequent cleaning required on the floor, especially when compared to systems installed in dusty areas. In the air above the water-free surface, the amount of dust is reduced compared to the mainland, since most of the dust that the wind lifts from the ground near the body of water cannot exceed the water's edge. In addition, it is not necessary to cut the vegetation that normally grows under the plants in the soil and the initial preparation of the site is minimized (no soil leveling work is needed).

Cheaper solar tracking and cooling: compared to land-based systems, the presence of water facilitates the implementation of solar tracking and panel cooling systems. The increase in energy produced with these methods can reach 20% for solar tracking and 10% for cooling.

Greater recyclability: due to the almost total absence of fixed infrastructure, the use of non-recyclable materials for floating solar systems is lower. In particular, a higher percentage of recyclable materials is used for the construction of these plants, which are plastics (mainly HDPE), steel and aluminum.

Disused quarries: in the case of the use of areas such as the numerous quarries that were first abandoned and then flooded, control of the area avoids transforming them, as often happens, into illegal uncontrolled landfills.

Integrated storage: floating photovoltaic energy can allow integrated storage systems that make facilities independent of energy

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Published: January 28, 2020
Last review: January 28, 2019