Floating PV installations in Asia may be much larger but the trend is catching on in the EU and, pending a supportive regulatory environment and incentives, the technology could offer several dozen gigawatts of generation capacity in Europe.
Floating PV announcements are flooding in this year, with a 2.1 GW project in the offing in South Korea. Despite smaller installations and market volume in Europe than Asia, floating PV is becoming established.
The latest headline announcement in the EU comes from the Netherlands, where the BayWa r.e. renewables division of the German group has inaugurated the country’s largest floating installation to date.
Together with Dutch partner GroenLeven, BayWa built a 14.5 MW floating array in just six weeks. The Sekdoorn project near the city of Zwolle is BayWa’s third floating PV array in the Netherlands, after the 2 MW Weperpolder plant and the 8.4 MW Tynaarlo facility were installed this year.
“In only a few months, we built 25 MW of floating PV projects in the Netherlands, which made us one of the biggest floating solar developers in Europe,” said Benedikt Ortmann, global head of solar projects at BayWa r.e. “Those installations are an important extension to ground-mounted facilities and a smart contribution to improve the so-called ‘double function’ applications for solar, such as agrisolar, carports, building-integrated PV and rooftop PV. We are planning to add more than 100 MW of floating PV next year just in Europe.”
The business case
According to the company, there are plans for floating PV deployment in other regions in Europe with the technology offering a second revenue stream for commercial ventures such as reservoirs, fish farms and disused open-cast lignite mines.
“As well as our pipeline in the Netherlands, we are already working on floating PV projects in Germany, France, Italy and Spain – the potential in Europe is indeed significant,” Ortmann said.
France and the Netherlands reportedly already offer incentives targeted specifically at floating solar and BayWa r.e. pointed at German policymakers for dragging their heels over such legislation. That sort of pressure opens up the prospect of floating solar eventually becoming part of German renewable generation capacity auctions.
BayWa and mounting structure specialist Zimmermann PV-Stahlbau have developed a floating system, the Zim Float, which has been used in its installations.
“We’ve proven that floating solar is technically manageable and comes with only slightly higher cost than ground-mounted systems,” Ortmann added. “In order to optimize the levelized cost of electricity (sic), the stability and long-life durability of the systems are absolutely key. That’s why we designed an entirely new floating plant concept together with our partners.”
Source: pv magazine