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What Is a Floating Solar Power Plant? World’s Largest Floating Solar Plants

What is a floating solar power plant? World’s largest floating solar plants

Another way to take advantage of solar energy is through floating photovoltaic installations.

Mammoth solar project
Mammoth solar project

A floating photovoltaic plant is a plant where the installation of solar panels is carried out in the water. These new power generation of solar plants are equipped with the same photovoltaic panels used for standard terrestrial systems but use specific technologies to float on water.

This variant of renewable energy is also aimed at generating electricity, but they offer several advantages compared to terrestrial photovoltaic systems.

What Is the World's Largest Floating Solar Power Plant?

The world's largest floating solar power plant is located in China, in Huainan city of Anhui province. The Chinese company Sungrow Power Supply Co built the photovoltaic plant on a lake in Huainan on top of a former flooded coal mine. 

The Huinan floating solar power plant has 166,000 floating solar panels with 40 MW of installed capacity.

India Will Have the World's Largest Floating Solar Plants in the Coming Months.

India is in the final phase of what will be the world's largest floating solar plant. It is a solar plant installed in the Ramagundam thermal power plant reservoir in Telangana (Peddapalli district). The floating solar power project will have 4.5 lakh photovoltaic panels with a power capacity of 100 MW.

The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is the company responsible for constructing India's biggest floating solar power plant at an approximate cost of Rs 423 million.

On the other hand, India has another even more ambitious project. Another floating solar plant is currently under construction at the Omkareshwar Dam on the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh. This plant is calculated to provide a capacity installed of 600 MW.

The state's renewable energy minister Hardeep Singh Dang said the project would require an investment of $410m (INR30bn). The forecast is that it will come into operation between the years 2022-23.

What Are the Advantages of Floating Solar Plants?

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

1.- Minimum Soil Consumption

Floating solar power plants are built on water and therefore do not consume the soil by nature, except those used to connect to the public electrical network. Nor do they foresee buildings and infrastructures that make it difficult to dismantle the pre-existing environmental state during the divestment phase.

2.- Saving Water

In areas dominated by floating solar systems, evaporation of the underlying water is limited by up to 80%. In areas destined for irrigation or human consumption, it is possible to save significant amounts of water depending on the percentage of coverage of the basin and the atmospheric temperature.

3.- Increased Efficiency

The performance of floating photovoltaic modules is higher than systems installed on land. In terrestrial systems, the high temperatures reached in summer close to the ground reduce both the performance and the useful life of the photovoltaic solar modules.

Feasibility studies reveal that the electricity produced by a floating solar plant compared to one on land can increase from 7 to 15%.

4.- Reduced Maintenance

Panels installed over water do not need the frequent cleaning required on the ground, especially when compared to systems installed in dusty areas.

In the air, the free water's surface reduces the dust amount compared to the air on land. Most of the wind-blown dust near the water cannot get past the water's edge.

In addition, by setting up floating solar, it is unnecessary to cut the vegetation that usually grows under the solar panels installed in the ground. Additionally, initial site preparation is minimized.

5.- Cheaper Solar Monitoring and Cooling

Compared to terrestrial systems, the presence of water makes it easy to implement solar tracking and panel cooling systems.

The increase in energy produced with these methods can reach 20% for solar tracking and 10% cooling.

6.- Greater Recyclability

In floating solar power plants, there are practically no fixed infrastructures. Therefore, the use of non-recyclable materials for floating solar systems is less.

In particular, a higher percentage of recyclable materials are used to construct these plants, which are plastics (mainly HDPE), steel, and aluminum.

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Published: January 28, 2020
Last review: June 28, 2021