Floating Solar Farms
Our society’s demand for energy has been constantly growing for years now. People often crown solar and wind power as our savior in the search for sustainable ways to power our society. Unfortunately for both, in order to compete with commercial fossil fuel power plants, an enormous installation is a must. The problem with such massive installations is that it demands a lot of space. Floating solar power plant may offer a solution for that.
This is the exact pain floating solar farms are aiming to solve. For that we see many countries, especially in Asia, experimenting with this possibility.
The concept is not so new, with the first patents on it going back to the late 2000s. A few experiments were already floating in the water and producing energy by the end of that decade. Since then, a lot of projects have already used this technology.
The biggest project currently being built is the Saemangeum floating solar project in the Yellow Sea in South Korea. When the project is done, they planned it to have a power capacity of 2.1GW.
In this article, we’ll cover some inspiration examples—the 5 largest operating projects in 2023.
Dezhou, in China’s Shandong province—320MW
Currently, the award for the biggest operational floating solar power plant in 2021 belongs to China. The 320 MW facility in Dezhou, in China’s Shandong province, is the largest floating PV project ever completed. Huaneng Power International (HPI) executed it.
They set the floating array up on a reservoir next to the 2.65 GW Dezhou thermal power facility owned by Huaneng Power.
HPI constructed the solar power plant in two stages, each with a capacity of 200 MW and 120 MW. They concluded the second phase between mid-September and the end of December 2021. Whereas they completed the first phase in 2020, which involved the deployment of 8 MWh of storage capacity.
The constructors stated that the facility can produce about 550 million kWh of electricity.
To support the structure, in an intertidal zone close to Yuhuan, Zhejiang province, the constructors also put into operation a 130 MW solar project in the middle of December.
It stated that the Qinggang Photovoltaic Power Station, which has 242,000 solar modules installed over a 1.2 million square meter area, is China’s first intertidal PV plant. We expect around 150 million kWh to be produced annually by the project.
Cirata Floating Solar Photovoltaic
Although not fully operating yet because of some delays in development, this new power plant is soon to be the biggest floating solar farm in Indonesia.
A 6200-hectare Cirata Reservoir in West Java will be the site of the 145-megawatt (MWac) PV plant. Once completed, it’d be Masdar’s foremost floating solar PV project and the first renewable energy project in the Southeast Asia market.
As the largest energy consumer in the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), with this project, Indonesia aims to have renewable sources accounting for 23% of its energy mix by 2025 and 31% by 2030.
The major issue affecting the progress is the land area chosen for the project. They need land acquisition permission to transmit electricity to substations.
Floating Solar Singapore by Sembcorp
Being one of the largest inland floating solar PV systems in the world, the 60MWp Sembcorp Tengeh Floating Solar farm has 122,000 solar panels spread across 45 hectares (equivalent to about 45 football fields).
The commencement of the solar farm’s operations, which were officially inaugurated in July 2021, represents an important step towards having surviving energy sustainability in water treatment.
This also makes Singapore one of the few nations in the world to have a 100% green waterworks system. And it advances the national aim of quadrupling solar energy deployment by 2025.
The five local water treatment facilities in Singapore will run on the energy produced by the solar farm. This will also offset around 7% of Singapore’s National Water Agency’s yearly energy requirements and lower the organization’s carbon footprint.
This is equivalent to getting 7,000 automobiles off the road and powering roughly 16,000 typical Singaporean homes while decreasing carbon emissions by about 32 kilotons annually.
Germany’s Biggest Floating Farm
The floating solar power plant, built by BayWa r.e. for the family-owned business Quarzwerke, has a capacity of 3MWp and a capacity of 5,800 floating solar modules. It generates about 3000 MWh of electricity annually and saves about 1,100 tons of CO2.
The system floats on the Silbersee III, a former mining lake, on an area of about 1.8 hectares, or roughly 2.3% of the lake’s surface.
The system was in test operation until the end of May 2022, after Quarzwerke began to produce power for both its own use and the German electrical grid.
According to BayWa r.e., Quarzwerke will use around 75% of the green electricity for internal consumption to further minimize the company’s carbon footprint.
In April, the company assembled 5,800 solar modules onto a total of 360 floating components on the lake coast before being hauled there in specialized solar boats. They set the solar modules at a 12-degree angle and positioned east/west for maximum energy generation.
The Korean Floating Solar Panel Megaproject
Saemangeum Floating Solar Power Project, South Korea, is one of the largest floating solar farms in the world. The construction of a 41 MW floating solar plant on a reservoir at the Hapcheon Dam was finished by South Korean solar company Scotra around the end of the previous year.
The land-scarce nation has set goals to become carbon-neutral by 2050 and to develop 2.1 GW of floating solar by 2030.
This groundbreaking 41 MW floating plant is the greatest such project in South Korea. Before the development of this plant, South Korea has so far made only mediocre development in renewable energy.
Additionally, they built the plant to make it a new tourist destination. The nation hopes that the floral arrangements of solar panels will draw lots of tourists to the East Asia nation as time progresses.
Bonus fact – floating solar panels increase efficiency
For a long time, we know that solar panels’ efficiency decreases with a higher temperature. The high heat seems inevitable effect on the sun’s exposure, and yet a few technologies are trying to water cool the panels to increase the facilities efficeny. The passive side effect of having the solar panels floating on the water is that the water exchange heat with the panels and cool them down. This effect allows two great engineering benefits to the planners of floating solar farms.
The first is the ability to use less efficient but cheaper solar panels since they are estimated to work in optimal conditions. This benefit can shrink the massive investment needed to build such an engineering wonder. Solar farms in general and floating ones in particular consist of hundreds if not thousands of solar modules. The ability to choose a cheaper model and obtain the same energy increases the financial likelihood of such projects.
The second is the ability to achieve improved performance with fewer, high-quality solar panels. In turn, this decision will reduce the area of infrastructure that enterpenouars need to develop along with the costs of a project.
The ability to offer improved ROI for investors, whether private or government helps us promote the agenda. Which is getting closer to meeting sustainable energy production goals.
The solar energy sector is growing and developing in new directions. We need to integrate solar farms with other uses of land on land. While utilizing floating solar systems on water. Combined we have a great power that will take us a step forward toward greening our energetical needs. With operating commercial-scale facilities leading the way and many projects being under development we are optimistic. No doubt that this technology will help increase the rate of transition to clean and sustainable projects. And in the bottom line help our society find sustainable ways to support itself while maintaining the quality of life want.
We will keep on updating you on how is the trend expanding as we expect a constant increase in the announcement of new projects.