In the last years we have seen a steady growth from PV technology deployed worldwide. Along with more traditional installations in ground mounted systems and rooftops in residences, factories and large buildings a new trend of technologies are pushed into the market to make better use of land and include solar PV generation: Agrivoltaics is one of the latest solutions that many developers are looking into, but floating PV was rising many eyebrows few years ago when it was firstly deployed, just to become nowadays more mainstream among several developers and asset owners.
Asia Pacific (APAC) has been one of the regions that has been pushing further in this kind of technology development, moving from land constrained countries such as Japan, Singapore or Taiwan, to other countries that might not have such land issues, but they have found in floating PV a complementary solution to the existent ground mounted and rooftop. Countries like China, Malaysia and Thailand have pushed the development of utility scale projects developed in ponds or dam areas where floating PV technology has become an alternative to other applications (such as hydro power generation or fishing industries).
DNV, the independent energy expert and assurance provider, estimates that the potential global capacity for deploying floating solar photovoltaic (FPV) power around 4 terawatts (TW).
While large scale ground-mounted photovoltaic development may be more challenging due to difficult terrain or land scarcity, many water bodies remain largely available for power generation – making the business case for FPV extremely attractive. After a slow start, floating PV is not a niche development anymore: the FPV market had grown to 2 GW global installed capacity in 2020. DNV foresees a total of 7-11 GW to be installed by 2025 with a major increase from 2023 onwards.
Recent improvements in floating solar PV characteristics
Although floating PV technology follows the same concept and have the same components of ground-mounted and rooftop PV, it has its own set of particularities that bring engineers to scratch their head on finding the best applications.
In the early years, floaters were raising a lot of questions on why they were designed in such manner, landscape set up of panels, was it safe to walk on them two people at the same? Lately mooring and safety of operations are more discussed topics once the industry becomes more mature and we start to see larger assets developed and many of them become operational for the next upcoming years.
Regarding the monitoring, communication and control of floating PV also has its own few rules to be considered. In GPM we started building monitoring and control systems for such projects in 2017 and we have evolved our solutions to improve the design from our first installations working together with developers and construction companies and incorporating feedback from the industry and our in-house engineering capabilities. Topics such as location of the sensors, communications media to be used, noise creation on communication cables laid from the floaters to onshore equipment, operating temperature of the equipment located in the islands and maintenance of such equipments are points were GPM has gained experience and developed new design to optimize such installations.
GPM’s new targets in floating photovoltaics
Moving forward, GPM is developing specific dashboards that will help asset owners and operators to visualize in a more friendly manner data coming from floating PV plants. Thanks to the flexibility and customization of GPM Horizon we can work on with industry leaders to help plot data in monitoring dashboard incorporating the relevant data that they want to see.
Finally, GPM being part of DNV one of the leader knowledge companies in this sector and with large experience of floating PV projects are working together on bring new relevant data in floating PV projects, adding from the traditional set of sensors that can be found in ground mounted/rooftop project, a new set of sensors and data that will help monitor other parameters such as mooring tension line, GPS position of the floaters, temperature difference, water pH… that will bring a new set of knowledge and data to GPM customers and will improve operations, understanding and reliability of floating PV plants.
Contact our experts
In case you might be interested to have some discussion with our APAC team about this topic, please send us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be keen to discuss with you or have a look at the latest webinar we did on this topic along with our colleagues: https://www.dnv.com/power-renewables/webinar/registration/advancing-floating-solar-in-apac.html