Floating solars. What are the prospects for its development in Poland?28.02.2022Media
Although floating photovoltaic panels is a technology used for several years, it is still considered a novelty in energy sector. What are the prospects for its development in Poland?
Author: Aleksandra Krzysztoszek
Content of this article does not reflect the positions or opinions of the EU-SysFlex project or its partners. EU-SysFlex is not responsible for the information or opinions included in this article.
‘Classic’ photovoltaics have become one of the most popular renewable energy sources in Poland in recent years. Solar panels are used not only on large solar farms, but also by small businesses, agricultural producers and even individual users.
Meanwhile, a new technology related to photovoltaics, namely floating solar panels, is developing more and more rapidly around the world. W 2019 r. the World Bank published a report „Where Sun Meets Water” about floating photovoltaic farms, whose global power was estimated at the end of 2018 at over 1.3 GW.
Floating photovoltaics (FPV) uses as a substrate for the installation of photovoltaic panels surface of lakes, oceans or seas.
Where did the idea of floating photovoltaics come from? The seas and oceans account for about 70 per cent the surface of the globe. However, land is becoming more difficult and more expensive to lease, and there are fewer and fewer suitable sites for large photovoltaic farms.
Photovoltaics on water, thanks to much better cooling, guarantee a higher efficiency of the installation of about 12-15 per cent. In addition, photovoltaic panels located near water reservoirs work much more efficiently, because they do not float over them as much dust and dust as is the case with installations on the ground or roofs of houses.
Moreover, the sun’s rays can reflect off the water tap, which allows to increase the production of electricity. Floating photovoltaic systems are also very resistant to adverse weather conditions such as wind, rain and snow.
The panels cover the water reservoir, which reduces evaporation of water, and the shadow cast reduces the flowering of algae. Water installations also reduce the frequency and magnitude of waves that erode the banks of water bodies.
Singapore and a huge offshore photovoltaic farm
According to the above-mentioned report, the first floating installation was created in 2007. in Aichi Prefecture in Japan, and the first commercial facility with a capacity of 175 kW was built a year later in the USA on the site of one of the vineyards in California. Farms with a capacity of more than 1 MW have been built since 2013.
Today, one of the largest water photovoltaic farms is located in Singapore. It is an important element of Singapore’s Green Plan 2030, announced last year. It aims the country to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, but this will only be possible if the country reduces its use of fossil fuels. Today in Singapore, 97 per cent of electricity is generated from natural gas.
The small size of the area makes it impossible for Singapore to use natural and renewable energy sources such as wind and water on such a large scale. However, the country has a high average sun exposure. One of the key objectives of the Green Plan 2030 is therefore to quadruple the use of solar energy to a peak of 1.5 GW by 2025 and then 2 GW by 2030.
But for Singapore to achieve this ambition, it needs to reach for cutting-edge technologies, and this is where „floating” photovoltaics come to the rescue. The Singapore farm was built by Sunseap Group, a Singapore-based energy solutions provider. It has five hectares of area, consists of 13312 solar panels and is estimated to be able to produce up to 6022500 kWh of energy per year.
Other world examples
Floating photovoltaic farms are being created in many places around the world today, stresses Tomasz Elżbieciak from WysokieNapięcie.pl. Last October, for example, a 3 MW farm was put into operation on a pre-industrial pond in Luxembourg.
A month later, the Portuguese government announced plans to build floating photovoltaic farms in the vicinity of seven dams. The total capacity is to be 262 MW, and the expected capacity of the largest of the farms is approx. 100 MW.
Last November, the first floating farm in Thailand was completed. On the surface of the Sirindhorn reservoir, located on the border with Laos, about 145 thousand panels were installed with a total capacity of approx. 45 MW.
In January this year, it was announced that China will open the world’s largest floating photovoltaic power plant with a capacity of 320 MW. Inwestorem obiektu w prowincji Szantung jest grupa Huaneng Power.
This does not mean that there will not be even larger power plants of this type. According to the rating of the power Technology service, the Indian project Omkareshwar with a capacity of 600 MW, followed by the South Korean Saemangeum with a total capacity of 2.1 GW, has the best chances of breaking the record.
Will photovoltaic also “float” in Poland?
In Poland, a pioneering initiative of floating photovoltaics was launched in August 2018. Energa company announced a pilot project with a capacity of several kilowatts at the Łapino hydroelectric power station near Gdańsk. The aim was to demonstrate whether, in the Polish climate, placing the panels on the water can increase their efficiency. A year later the company reported about the full success of the pilot.
Then, Energa decided to build a floating PV farm with a capacity of approx. 0,5 MW. It also announced that it would also install similar facilities on other water reservoirs, including those located on fossil sites, which would contribute to their rehabilitation. However, the project is still in the „preparation for implementation” phase.
It is already known that Energa will not be a Polish pioneer in the field of „floating” photovoltaics. Last year, a floating PV farm was completed on a reservoir created after the extraction of gravel in kujawsko-pomorskie voivodeship. The 0.5 MW fam for ZPK Snake company was completed by Arta Energy from Torun. Its installation was carried out on a sheet of ice, when the reservoir was frozen in winter. Last year Arta Energy announced the implementation of two other floating PV installations, but with a smaller capacity-50 kW each.
However, it is ZE Pak, controlled by Zygmunt Solorz, and the plan of a floating photovoltaic power plant with a capacity of up to 60 MW at the Janiszew reservoir in the municipality of Brudzew, that has the best chances for the role of a national leader in „floating” photovoltaics, Elżbieciak says. This reservoir was created by the flooding of one of the excavations of the Adamów lignite mine, which fed the nearby power plant, decommissioned four years ago.
Development prospects in Poland
Floating photovoltaics „is one of the possibilities for the development of solar energy, especially worth considering where there is a limited area on which to install standard solar farms,” points out Joanna Flisowska, coordinator of the „Climate and Energy” team at Greenpeace Poland.
„This is an option which would make possible to develop especially the surface of artificial reservoirs. In Poland, this type of investment is not yet widespread, but certainly worth considering, ” the expert believes.
As she noted in the comment for EURACTIV.pl, „if we want to avoid a climate crisis, we need to accelerate and increase investment in renewables-both solar and wind, including investment in onshore wind.”
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