- GIA report forecasts global floating solar PV capacity to grow to 4.8 GW by 2026
- It will be led by Asia Pacific, due to China’s presence in the region, that will contribute 2.7 GW of the total estimate
- Easy availability of unused water bodies is the biggest advantage for floating solar segment, but high costs are inhibiting its growth
At the end of 2021, global floating solar panel deployment totaled an estimated 1.6 GW, and is projected to reach 4.8 GW by 2026 led by Asia Pacific, according to analysts with the US based market research company Global Industry Analysts (GIA) Inc.
Asia Pacific accounted for 771.6 MW of the cumulative at the end of 2021 and is likely to account for 2.7 GW by 2026. Like the rest of the global solar market, the floating solar segment will also be driven by China as the fastest growing regional market with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 59.4% by 2026. Recently, the largest floating PV plant was grid-connected in China (see World’s Largest Floating Solar Plant Online).
According to the GIA report titled Floating Solar Panels-Global Market Trajectory & Analytics, a host of factors are likely to contribute to this growth in the segment ranging from growing preference for solar and wind power to regulatory support to encourage solar energy.
The biggest advantage of floating solar PV plants is the costly land saved in the process. Analysts count 1 MW of a floating PV plant to occupy around 7-hectare to 10-hectare water surface to generate 1,500 MWh of electricity. Shading of the panels in such a configuration saves 15 MI water and the presence of water keeps the panels cool, thereby reducing the overall maintenance cost, according to the report.
“As the water bodies are generally government-owned, it is easy to obtain permits for water bodies compared to land,” points out the report that claims the sector is driven by the ability to use unused water bodies for these panels. The US alone has more than 24,000 manmade water bodies with other big markets being India, Germany, and Japan along with China. Analysts see Russia and Azerbaijan also with growth potential.
The one big reason that’s slowing down this segment’s growth is the overall cost of floating solar PV panels is higher than stationary ones, pointed out the analysts.
The report can be purchased on the company website for $5,600