Intrepid pv magazine newshound Tristan Rayner is in the … No, wait, let me rephrase that. Erm… okay, I’ll just let Tristan explain:
One of the emerging topics at Intersolar this year is floating PV. While strongly present in Asia, and with progress in the U.K. and the Netherlands, Germany’s floating PV is being described as still in “kinderschule.” So said Peter Kroger, at Prymian Group, which provides cables for the solar market, including for floating PV, with Peter wisely noting: “Water and energy are a difficult mix.”
Frank Czernie, from TUV Rheinland, explained the industry has more than one problem with water: Component failures are increasing – from cables to connectors – especially in the hard, acidic waters of old mine sites, for example.
Yet another problem is soiling; bird life in water is rich, varied, and very capable of “covering” a floating panel. Cleaning is a great deal harder than it is on land.
German solar module cleaning companies are still in the test phase and Hycleaner CEO Andreas Grochowiak said he has a solution he’s tested in Bilbao, using the battery-powered ‘Black Solar Facelift,’ with more testing to come.
Over at solar cleaning company Helios PV, managing director Hermann Staudinger said his company would be having a first test to clean floating PV with its ‘Agile’ cleaner, another battery powered device, with partner Zimmerman helping provide a test as soon as this month.
More experienced is Pol Duthoit, co-founder of Solarcleano, who cleaned his first floating PV installation to the west of London back in 2018. Duthoit says the industry has a long way to go: it may only take an hour for someone to learn how to operate a robot cleaner on a solar park on land, but learning how to clean floating PV panels can take “months and months,” with the battery-powered SolarCleano F1 the machine of choice, of course.
Why? It’s all in the float. It’s too easy to miss a spot while the panels bob up and down on the water. Duthoit noted one system from French floating PV manufacturer Ciel et Terre was particularly difficult to treat, with its floats moving more than others, from Baywa re, for example.
And there’s time for just one more insight: Cleaning floating modules is around 30-40% slower than fixed panels, partly due to just how much soiling (read, poop) is present on the panels. “Sometimes you can’t even see the color of the panels due to the amount of white residue,” was how Duthoit put it, somewhat politely.
Source: pv magazine