Floating PV projects (FPV) represent a solution to the challenges faced by developers when attempting to construct large-scaled mounted solar parks such as unsuitable terrain or land unavailability. Floating solar projects are on the rise in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal with RWE, BayWa, and EDP leading the charge in the development of European floating PV farms. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Research outlined the potential for floating PV farms in Germany particularly, with the possibility of developing 15GW on decommissioned coal mining lakes. However, FPV also has limitations of its own. Developers have cited difficulties obtaining permits and authorization which are responsible for hampering the progress of large-scale FPV projects. DNV have established their position as market leaders in FPV technologies and best practice. DNV estimates that FPV capacity can reach up to 10GW by 2025 with a potential global capacity of 4TWh. The Norwegian group are predicting rapid growth in FPV as in 2020 floating solar projects had an installed capacity of 2GW. DNV strives to outline best practice methods for the development of FPV to avoid corrosion risks and lead to increased output whilst maintaining low failure rates.
1) BayWa RE (Germany)
The German renewables group have been active in the development of floating PV projects since 2018 with their initial project located in the Netherlands. To date, BayWa have developed over 200MW of floating PV. The German group were responsible for the development of the largest floating PV project located outside of Asia in 2020, their Bomhofsplas project has an installed capacity of 27.4MW. BayWa have since exceeded this with the installation of their Uivermeerjes (29.8MW) and Sellingen (41.4MW) projects in 2021. In 2021, BayWa expanded outside of Europe with the development of a 2.8MW FPV in the APAC region, Thailand. To date, the German renewable experts have 13 FPV in operation or construction. Their already vast portfolio puts BayWA as one of the key global players in floating solar projects.
2) EDP Renewables (Portugal)
EDP Renewables are one of the largest global developers of green energy therefore, it is of no surprise that the Portuguese group aims to gain a foothold in the floating solar market. In April 2022, EDP was awarded a grid connection in a Portuguese solar auction which will allow the group to install up to 154MW. The grid connection in Alqueva involves the development of 70MW of floating solar energy as well as 14MW solar overcapacity and 70MW of hybrid wind capacity. The project consists of 12,000 solar panels and will be the largest floating solar park in Europe. EDP also have eyes on expanding outside of Europe, in November 2021 the Portuguese group confirmed their substantial investment in Singaporean floating solar developer, Sunseap. Sunseap are in the process of developing a 2.2GW FPV and storage plant on Indonesia’s Batam island. Through their investment, EDP will aim to assert their presence in the Asian market as well as opening the possibility of co-developing hydrogen, wind and solar projects.
3) RWE (Germany)
Another key player in European renewable energy development is the German group, RWE. RWE first identified floating solar as a potential opportunity in July 2021, as the group in cooperation with Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems and Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg investigated the potential for FPV in Germany and globally. RWE relied on the expertise of Volta Solar to develop test FPVs, which allowed the German group to develop an in-depth understanding of how the systems work. In August 2021, RWE began construction of their first floating solar park which is located on the same land as their Solar Park Amer project. The FPV will consist of 13,400 solar modules and will have an installed capacity of 6MW.
Image Source Unsplash 29.06.2022