Image source: Kyocera
Recently many countries facing land scarcity issues have resorted to building PV systems on water as an innovative and less costly way to create extra “space” for generating renewable energy. Floating PV system refers to the installation of solar PV modules on a structure that afloats on water bodies that have lower human accessibility and/or where water conservation is needed, such as retention ponds of wastewater treatment plants, lakes or reservoirs etc.. The benefits of floating PV systems are multifaceted. For instance, a floating PV system has higher power generation efficiency than land-based PV system due to natural evaporative cooling effects from the water. Moreover, by covering a certain percentage of the water body with the PV system, water quality can be improved as less photosynthesis takes place in the water which lowers the risk of having algae bloom.
The first floating PV installation was tested in California in 2007. And globally, there were only three floating PV systems being built before 2014, according to Solarplaza, an independent website platform for knowledge and insights on global solar PV industry. Nevertheless, over the past two years, the amount has escalated to exceeding 70. In particular, it is believed that currently Japan and UK have taken the lead in building testing floating solar farms by far. However, many realizations and new proposals have been in the pipeline elsewhere in the world.
In October, 2016, Singapore launched the world’s largest floating solar PV system test bed where 10 different solar PV systems would be tested and monitored in order to select the one of best performance for scaling up. This year, new pilot projects have been launched in India and Hong Kong. Not long ago this month, China has also just completed the world’s largest floating PV facility and connected it to the local power grid. A market research firm has even concluded that the market of floating solar panels is expected to reach 2.5 GW globally by 2024, leading people to believe that the floating PV boom era might have started!
For more background information about the floating PV market, please read Floating Solar Plants: Niche Rising to the Surface? by SolarPlaza