According to the latest World Bank report, floating solar in Australia and Oceania have potential for 5 GW on freshwater man-made reservoirs under conservative assumptions, and up to an impressive 50 GW under the most favourable scenario.
The World Bank says global floating solar capacity has topped 1.1 GW, noting that adding floating solar to hydro power plants improves their flexibility while increasing energy yields. As of the end of September 2018, the worldwide installed capacity of floating solar plants was 1.1 GW, according to the World Bank’s Where Sun Meets Water report.
“If the evolution of land-based solar is any indication, floating solar could advance at least as rapidly, profiting as it does from all the decreases in costs attained by land-based solar deployment,” states the report.
World Bank specialists have plot three scenarios for floating solar and its potential growth:
- Under the first situation – the most conservative – in which they assume floating PV will occupy only 1% of the world’s man-made, freshwater reservoirs – a potential installed capacity of 400 GW is predicted; 101 GW would be in Africa, and North America and Europe would account for 126 GW and 20 GW, respectively. The Middle East and Asia would account for 116 GW, while South America and Australia and Oceania have the potential to install 36 GW and 5 GW, respectively.
- In a second, more favourable scenario – in which the percentage of available surfaces utilized rises to 5% – a potential 2,022 GW is foreseen, with Africa; North America; and the Middle East and Asia still having the lion’s share, with 506 GW, 630 GW, and 578 GW, respectively, and Australia and Oceania accounting for 25 GW.
And that’s based on current technology…
- The best scenario of the study envisages a potential 4,044 GW, which could be reached if 10% of the world’s available sites harness floating solar. Under this scenario, Australia and Oceania could add 50 GW.
The potential peak capacity of the scenarios was calculated using the efficiency levels of current PV modules and the surface area needed for their installation, operation and maintenance. There is scope for these numbers to increase, without increasing the surface area recorded, as more is learnt about the efficiency gains made by positioning solar panels over water and harnessing the cooling effect of the water. On top of this, further technological and cost improvements could see the potential of each scenario could be even larger.
Combine floating PV with hydropower
They stress floating solar projects are particularly useful at hydro power dams.
“The solar capacity can be used to boost the energy yield of such assets, and may also help to manage periods of low water availability by allowing the hydro power plant to operate in ‘peaking’ rather than ‘base load’ mode,” the report adds.
Basically, floating solar aids in the reduction of evaporation of water – which, in a hydro power dam, is essentially the battery power – which allows the hydro power plant to operate more efficiently, whilst also generating power to run the hydro pumps when power is cheap and readily available.
Its an amazing opportunity that has been previously unavailable.
Several emerging solar markets are opening up to floating solar, including Vietnam, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and the Kyrgyzstan Republic, among others.
Meanwhile, floating solar in Australia is still in its infancy.
FloatPac Solar will complete installation of our first 20kW floating solar system in mid-February, with pipeline enquiries sitting at c. 8 – 9.5MW from current leads. Once the validity of our system is proven and the concept is commercialised, we expect to see uptake increase significantly for floating solar in Australia.
Floatovoltaic’s present a raft of viable solutions to a variety of problems, which are all very relative to Australia:
- Help with water scarcity, through evaporation reduction;
- Assisting to deal with algal blooming, which can be exacerbated during drought conditions and with rising temperatures;
- Usage of water bodies for solar arrays rather than valuable land;
- Embankment erosion control;
- Reported 11 – 21% yield increases from the floating solar arrays (the water’s cooling effect increases panel efficiency);
- Decentralisation of power supply, assisting in positioning of solar arrays in suburban areas, aiding the reduction of line loss thanks to power not needing to travel great distances from regional power plants to city centres;
- Water savings in cleaning of solar panels; and,
- Simple deployment of systems requiring little or no site preparation works
All of this points towards the potential for floating solar in Australia to see a significant and relatively fast boom in systems being built and deployed with the advent of FloatPac Solar.
FloatPac Solar’s Australian designed floatovoltaic system focuses on decreasing the impact on the environment by containing algae bloom, enhancing water security, reducing carbon emissions, all while using 100% recyclable floating solar pods and increasing energy generation efficiency.
Gavin Hodgins, FloatPac CEO