Meeting the challenges of floating solar
The growing popularity of floating solar installations raises specific issues regarding the development and the operation of these floating assets. DNV GL is on board with this technology across the globe, combining our existing strengths in solar energy and maritime. Our goal is to help you meet the challenges of this new solar discipline.
Please do not hesitate to inquire for more information on some of our services:
- Guidelines and tools for developers
- Technology qualification for floating structures
- Technical due diligence
- Tendering support
- Energy production assessments
- Environmental impact
- Material integrity and durability assessment
Our experience with this relatively new technology spans over multiple continents around the world. We find that our customers are motivated by common drivers (e.g. limited land area, mountainous terrain, innovation necessity, higher specific yields, or the need to reduce water evaporation) that can vary for each location. Here at DNV GL we are looking forward to helping you reach the potential that your specific geographic locations can offer for floating solar. As of today, we have supported clients realizing over 2 GW installed power and we have been the technical advisor for the largest floating PV projects in Asia-Pacific. See our customer cases at the bottom of this page.
Floating solar has huge potential in areas where difficult terrain, land scarcity and competition for land use make ground-mounted systems impractical. In our past projects, we have come across some of the technical challenges in designing and building floating PV projects. Non-availability of land in some locations and multipurpose use of land could make land acquisition difficult for energy projects.
Floating solar PV projects can satisfy the above conditions by providing an alternative deployment option for PV modules, namely on bodies of water such as lakes, lagoons, reservoirs, ponds, canals, etc. Floating solar installations consist of floats/pontoons, module mounting structures, mooring system, PV modules, inverters, and balance of system (BOS) components. PV modules are mounted on top of floats, which are fundamentally buoyancy units used to keep the PV modules floating above the water surface. PV modules, which convert the incident solar irradiation into electricity, can be mounted either directly or in combination with frames on the floaters. A mooring system is used to keep the floats in place.
Even though there are several advantages of using floating installations, there are also several challenges in using this technology, which should be assessed on a case-by case-basis. These installations are vulnerable to storms, waves and currents that could adversely affect the lifetime of the plant. Such dynamic loads can result in floats getting overturned during adverse weather events, or the increase in motion can induce stresses on the mounting structure. There is also an increased risk of corrosion and hence a possible reduction in the design life. Inverters and BOS components are exposed to high humidity environments and movements due to the waves. Environmental aspects (e.g. biofouling, bird droppings and nesting) may affect production yield and O&M procedures, as well as have effects on flora and fauna development. Health and Safety standards regarding the installation, mooring and O&M activities also require additional attention when working in and around water.
We are capable and well-positioned to advise you on any issues such as mounting structures, environmental conditions, load combinations, materials and durability, installation and maintenance as well as energy simulations.