Editorial Feature

A Guide to Floatovoltaics

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Solar energy is considered to be one of the most promising energy alternative sources, but the availability of soil can limit the scope of its adoption. In floatovoltaics, floating solar panels not only save space but also conserve water and maintain its quality.

What are Floatovoltaics?

Floatovoltaics or Floating PV is the new method proposed for the installation of solar panels on a water body instead of being fixed on the ground. The solar panels are mounted on floating platforms and are modular in nature. They can form a large structure or float as independent modules which maintain a geometric configuration.

The efficiency of these floating structures is estimated to be 8-10% higher than land-based solar plants because the surrounding water acts as a natural coolant to the panels. This increases efficiency and improves overall energy yield.

In addition to the beneficial use of surrounding water, a floating panel provides shading to the water, limits the growth of algae and helps to reduce evaporation. Floatovoltaics can also utilize wastewater bodies for installation of the solar panels, freeing up expensive real estate.

Advantages of Floatovoltaics

The installation of a floatovoltaic system has many advantages, including improved energy conversion, improved water quality, reduced evaporation, reduced panel soiling, and reduced civilian infrastructure. The advantages of the Floatovoltaics system are discussed below.

Improved Energy Efficiency from the PV system

The photovoltaic system performance depends on various factors. Its reliance on temperature is the biggest issue. Photovoltaic modules lose their effectiveness with increasing panel temperature. Floating photovoltaic systems are designed with a cooling system to take advantage of the water it floats in, using it as a natural heat sink. This makes them more efficient than equivalent systems mounted on the ground.

Improve Water Quality

Photovoltaic systems preserve water for the next generation as well as saving productive land. Where water bodies are exposed to the sun, photosynthesis allows the growth of organic matter, including algae. These algae are generally not desirable as they can obstruct pumping and filtration systems, requiring costly chemical treatment to control the problem. The installation of floating photovoltaic panels shades the water and reduces photosynthesis. This reduces the formation of algal blooms and reduces chemical and operational costs.

Reduction of Evaporation

A significant benefit for countries where water resources are limited, Floatovoltaics reduce water evaporation from the water body as the reservoir’s effective surface area is reduced. The floating solar panels can reduce water evaporation by up to 33% on natural lakes and ponds, and by up to 50% on man-made facilities.

Reduction in Panel Soiling

As the solar panels are located on the surface of the water, further away from sources of dust and dirt, the installation reduces soiling. Particularly in dry and dusty areas, the distance from the ground prevents the capture of dust and dirt, reducing the need for surface cleaning. Furthermore, on such installations, an abundant amount of water to clean the surface of the panels is never too far away.

Less Civil Infrastructure Work

Floating systems do not require thousands of metal frames to be fixed to the ground, meaning that a panel array can be assembled more rapidly. In addition, the decommissioning of a floating system is much simpler and less expensive.

Sources and Further Reading

  1. N. M. Kumar, E. Engineering, P. Mallikarjun, and E. Engineering, “Floatovoltaics : Towards Improved Energy Efficiency, Land and Water,” vol. 9, no. 7, pp. 1089–1096, 2018.
  2. H. Peter, T. Experiences, and W. B. Webinar, “Riding the wave of solar energy : Why floating solar installations are a positive step for energy generation Due to its flexibility and performance advantages , the installation of solar on floating platforms,” 2018.
  3. B. K. Pickerel, U. States, U. States, and U. States, “Riding the new wave of floatovoltaic installations,” pp. 1–13, 2019.
  4. http://nyenergyweek.com/potential-floating-solar-pv-technology-_copy/
  5. R. S. Spencer, J. Macknick, A. Aznar, A. Warren, and M. O. Reese, “Floating PV : Assessing the Technical Potential of Photovoltaic Systems on Man-Made Water Bodies in the Continental US. Floating PV : Assessing the Technical Potential of Photovoltaic Systems on Man-Made Water Bodies in the Continental US,” 2018.
  6. A. Sahu, N. Yadav, and K. Sudhakar, “Floating photovoltaic power plant : A review,” vol. 66, pp. 815–824, 2016.

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