- Advantage in saving land and saving water from evaporation while generating clean energy will be the main market drivers for floating solar in the next few years
- Frost & Sullivan report expects the technology’s costs to come down with further improvement in component costs, which currently are higher than land-based silicon solar plants
- Analysts suggest floating solar generators to collaborate with hydropower generators to bring down transmission costs
- Exploring the technology as a hybrid ocean energy technology can also provide continuous source of electricity while improving economics
A new report from Frost & Sullivan sees great scope in the growth of floating solar during the next decade as it sees this ‘game-changer’ in the renewable energy sector making its presence felt with growing land-scarcity issues, and as a means to save water from evaporating on water bodies acting as its growth drivers.
Energy & Environment Sr. Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, Paritosh Doshi believes by way of conserving water floating solar leads to sustainable energy production which counts as a plus for the technology, especially to save drinking water in reservoirs.
And since floating PV panels are kept cool by the presence of water underneath, their energy yield increases compared to land-based silicon solar panels equipped facilities where there is a loss in efficiency of 0.3% to 0.5% for every degree above 25º.
According to the market research firm’s Technological Advancements in Floating Solar Technologies report, higher cost of installation compared to ground mounted utility scale solar power plants is one major factor constraining its growth in the present times.
“The cost of floaters constitutes about 50% of the entire project cost. As of 2022, the cost of installing a floating solar plant is around $650,000 to $780,000/MW, while installing land-based projects costs around $520,000,” according to the report. “The gap in cost will reduce in the future with advances increasing the cost-effectiveness of floating solar components.”
Apart from cost, availability of skilled manpower trained in installation and operation of such projects is another hinderance to its growth.
The report writers recommend floating solar PV developers to collaborate with hydropower generators to deploy these plants on reservoirs producing hydropower which will help bring down costs that would otherwise be incurred on building new transmission infrastructure.
“Floating solar involves expensive infrastructure comprising floating support and mooring and anchoring systems for transporting the electricity that plants generate to onshore areas. This pushes companies to minimize such costs by collaborating with hydropower plant operators, as it will allow floating solar plants to utilize the transmission infrastructure used by hydropower plants,” explains Doshi.
Additionally, floating PV projects can achieve a higher return on investment in regions with high solar irradiance thus improving their economic viability. At the same time, integrating floating solar with wind energy and wave energy systems as hybrid ocean energy technologies also provides better economics and more consistent power generation.
The report can be purchased on Frost & Sullivan’s website for $4,950.
Till the end of 2021, global installed floating solar PV capacity reached 1.6 GW, according to Global Industry Analysts that forecast it to grow to a cumulative 4.8 GW by 2026 with China led Asia Pacific region contributing 2.7 GW of the total (see 1.6 GW Floating Solar Capacity Till 2021).
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