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Enel to combine floating PV, hydropower

The Italian utility is testing several technologies at a floating PV array in Sicily. It wants to select the most promising ones for future large-scale projects in the reservoirs of its hydropower plants throughout the world.

Enel Green Power, the renewable energy unit of Italian utility Enel, has deployed a 30 kW floating PV system in Catania, Sicily, to test several solar module technologies.

“Enel is testing different kinds of components and plant configurations,” Fabrizio Bizzarri, the head of Solar Innovation at Enel Green Power, told pv magazine. “At present, three plant configurations have been built and are in operation and we estimate that there is still room for innovation entailing technology improvement and cost reduction.”

Enel is testing several solutions in order to select the most promising ones for future large-scale solar plants. The performance of experimental trials will allow it to optimize plant parameters.

“For example, we are testing the effect of forced water cooling of modules,” Bizzarri said. “We are also investigating the effect of the presence of the solar PV facilities on water and on the environment in general.”

It built three experimental plants on a reservoir, in cooperation with the Enel Innovation Lab, a testing platform for innovative solar technologies. The lab is located in Catania, where the company also owns and operates a solar module factory at a site with high solar radiation.

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The company is currently testing unspecified bifacial and monofacial commercial modules at the facility. The panels have been tested with the aim of evaluating their ability to withstand the typical working conditions of floating PV systems.

Looking ahead, Enel plans to install floating PV plants in the basins of hydropower plants, located in various countries around the world. “In this case, the PV facilities will have to adapt to the characteristics of the specific basins which differ from case to case,” Bizzarri explained.

The coupling of floating PV with hydropower could help Enel to reduce its costs. “The cost of floating PV is expected to drop over time, owing to technology improvement and better economies of scale,” Bizzarri said. “The possibility, currently under study, to create synergies between floating PV and the hydro plants hosting such facilities should allow for cost reduction, while also improving LCOE.”

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Source: pv magazine