German renewables company BayWa r.e. AG has shared first insights of the 27.4 MW Bomhofsplas Floating Solar PV Plant in Zwolle, Netherlands that has been operational on a sand extraction lake since July 2020. The project entered construction in February 2020 and was since then being studied by the Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen and local environmental consultant Buro Bakker/ATKB, to understand how floating PV affects the environment.
For this project BayWa has deployed its own certified floating PV solution and shared that initial results of the study, focused on its impact on water, ecology and biodiversity, show there were no adverse effects to the surrounding environment on site. Presence of panels leads to less wind activity on the water surface, resulting in less erosion of the banks, hence protecting and stimulating vegetation.
Researchers observed a slight decrease in the level of oxygen content under the floating PV panels in the past year, but argue that these were primarily caused by weather variations. There was no unfavorable change observed in the water quality below the farm and that it remains at ‘same good level as the surrounding water surface’.
No initial negative impacts have been seen on the fish population at the lake where an organization called Ecocean has submerged bio huts with seashells to encourage marine life and greater biodiversity. Nonetheless, the company said a multi-year research is needed to establish clear results and long-term effects.
“The positive environmental impact is a key aspect of our Floating-PV design. With this product we can produce renewable energy while improving the conditions for wildlife on site,” said Global Director of Solar Projects with BayWa, Dr. Benedikt Ortmann. “Floating-PV is a promising solution that has an important role to play, next to other double function applications such as Rooftop-PV, Agri-PV or Carport-PV.”
Tony Weigl, Head of Product Management Floating-PV, BayWa r.e. Solar Projects GmbH, said this collaboration with Hanze university and Buro Bakker/ATKB will act as ‘useful guidance’ for future development of new floating PV projects.
Speaking of new projects, BayWa is currently constructing a 29.8 MW Uivermeettjes Floating-PV Park ‘which will be again the largest in Europe to date’.
On achieving grid connection for the project in July 2020, BayWa and its local subsidiary Groenleven called it the country’s largest and Europe’s largest such project. The group then sold it to a local consortium (see New Owners For ‘Largest’ Dutch Floating PV Project).