The Floating Power Plants
Floating solar panels can be used as an alternative to large-scale ground mount solar systems. They can be installed on existing reservoirs, canals and lakes and that way generate clean, renewable energy while conserving land and water. The floating power plants aren’t just good for saving space, because the panels are over water they have a cooler temperature, which makes them more efficient.
Nowadays, we have a lot of countries developing floating solar plants, main reason can be found in a number of benefits generated by this new technology, for example generating clean renewable energy and at the same time reducing electricity costs. The technology of floating solar panels protect ecologically sensitive areas and conserve precious land for farming, mining, tourism and other land-intensive activities.
We are going to focus on India, Japan and Singapore to talk about existing projects. In fact, India is planning to install the world’s largest floating solar power project by installing a 50 MW solar photovoltaic project over the water bodies in the southern state of Kerala. The approximate cost of the project would be about $64-72 million.
Solar panels will be installed on floating platforms which will be anchored firmly to avoid undulation of the panels around the surface of the water. Capital cost for this floating installation is approximately $1.18 Million per MW with power generation cost of Rs 7 ($0.13) per unit. These projects may also qualify for subsidies granted by the state and central government as part of their solar policies. This technology is expected to offer more generation yield compared to the solar panels installed on the surface. Project developers would see substantial savings on project cost as the cost to acquire or lease land and cost of land reclamation would not be a factor.
If India’s project is commissioned, it will replace a project in Japan as the world’s largest floating solar power plant.
Japan may be short on free land space, but that’s not stopping them from investing in renewable energy. Japan was one of the first one to develop floating solar power plants and today they are planning to create two huge floating solar power plants which will be up and running by April 2015. These are just the first two of a planned network of around 30 floating 2 megawatt (MW) power plants, capable of generating a combined 60 MW of power;
The first of these floating solar farms to be build will have 1.7 MW of power capacity, making it the world’s largest floating solar power plant. The second will have a capacity of 1.2 MW.
According to experts, just these first two floating solar power plants would be enough to power anywhere between 483 and 967 American households.
Another country developing this new technology is Singapore, with little space to spare looks to its water reservoirs to expand its use of renewable energy. Installing floating solar power plants presents an opportunity for this little country smaller than New York City; they are turning water in useful space generating clean energy.
“The vast majority of photovoltaic installations in Singapore will obviously be on rooftops, but even those are limited,” says Thomas Reindl, deputy CEO of the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, the organization that will be managing the project for the government. “Alternative areas have been explored, and one of the most promising options is inland water reservoirs.”
The reservoir will eventually be used to provide drinking water, so one of the challenges of the project will be making sure that none of the components in the solar panels can leach into the water. Singapore hopes that the system will be completed and used as a model for other countries with limited space. They have been considering the idea of floating solar farms for several years, and others, like the French company Ciel et Terre, are developing similar ideas. But it’s only now that the cost of solar tech is low enough to make it a truly viable idea.
This technology has definitely a future so who’s next?