• Fraunhofer ISE in a report assessing the potential for floating PV in Germany claims lignite opencast mines hold technical potential of 56 GW
  • The BayWa re commissioned study estimates total economic exploitable potential for this technology at 4.9% of the theoretical sea area at 2.74 GWp
  • It recommends including floating PV in government tender proceedings under innovation tenders

A Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) study, commissioned by renewable energy developer BayWa re, claims the technical potential for floating solar PV plants on lignite opencast mines in Germany adds up to 56 GW. After deducting the estimated areas relevant for leisure activities, tourism, nature and landscape protection, there remains an economic potential of 2.74 GW for floating PV.

The institute reports for Germany to successfully undergo its energy transition, PV expansion of up to 500 GW is needed (from nearly 50 GW today), but scarcity of land requires ‘land-neutral’ solutions and floating PV, though costlier, emerges as one option.

Germany has almost 500 open-cast ponds with a total area of 47,251 hectares mostly in its eastern states of Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony. The greatest potential exists in Lusatia and Central Germany. “The project team estimates the total economically exploitable potential for floating PV power plants at 4.9% of the theoretical sea area, which corresponds to an installed capacity of 2.74 GWp in Germany,” according to Fraunhofer ISE.

The report recommends including floating PV as well as other area-neutral PV power plants in the German tender proceedings fo the new innovation tender category.

“In order to avoid time-consuming changes to the land use plan, the land-neutral FPV should be privileged, similar to what is already planned for the use of land for wind and nuclear power,” explains Dr Harry Wirth, Head of Photovoltaic Modules and Power Plants at Fraunhofer ISE.

Exploring suitable opportunities in the German floating PV market, BayWa draws a comparison with the Netherlands where it has a total installed floating PV capacity of around 25 MW and claims the Dutch market offers enough remuneration to economically implement floating PV. “Now it is a matter of creating the right framework and simplifying the approval process in order to be able to leverage this potential,” said Edgar Gimbel, Head of Power Plant Engineering at BayWa re Solar Projects GmbH .   

The report further suggests including installation of floating PV on open-cast mines in the renovation framework plans of these mines.