- How does Floating-PV benefit lake owners?
You can actively advance your sustainability credentials. In addition, you can generate long-term lease income by making your space available to us, where previously costs were incurred at best. You can become the owner of the floating system, either by buying it or by hire purchase. The electricity can be used for your own consumption, enabling you to secure your energy costs for the long term and avoid possible CO2 taxes, or you can sell the electricity on to another company.
Operators of hydroelectric power stations benefit from dual use of the reservoir to maximise energy production. At high solar irradiation, the floating solar park delivers electricity, and at low irradiation or at night, the hydro technology delivers electricity. Furthermore, a Floating-PV system will reduce evaporation from their reservoir, and the existing grid connection can be used, which lowers the cost of installation. A real win-win situation.
- What are the benefits of partnering with BayWa r.e.?
With more than 30 years of experience in the field of renewables, we draw upon extensive know-how. We are a quality-orientated, full-service provider with a strong financial background. Our parent company BayWa AG generated a turnover of 19.8 billion euros in 2021.
- What are the advantages of Floating-PV compared to rooftop and ground-mounted PV?
Compared to ground-mounted solar, the big advantage is that no agricultural land is used, and the parks do not conflict with food production. Compared to rooftop installations, much bigger systems can be realised at lower LCOE (capex and opex). Constructing and maintaining Floating-PV plants present lower risks for our employees than rooftop installations.
- What is the average lifespan of a Floating-PV system?
The floating parks are designed for a lifetime at least 30 years – the same as is the case for ground-mounted installations.
- Is Floating-PV a proven technology?
Floating-PV is not a new technology, only a new application of an existing technology. Our systems fulfil all Eurocode standards and are certified by VDE. The system is based on our construction experience - we have installed more than 1 GWp. The plants are maintained by BayWa r.e.’s O&M unit and ensures investors will benefit from smooth operation over the lifetime of the project. Our position monitoring systems mean we are always able to determine the exact location of the Floating PV units, which further increases safety and management.
For those investing in BayWa r.e. Floating-PV, the return, risk and administration are no different than when investing in ground-mounted projects, as all the particulars are handled by our experienced teams.
- Why can’t we build smaller than 2 MWp?
Our 2 MWp blocks are electrically and mechanically designed, simulated and tested in standard blocks including the required inverter and transformer units. A modification or removal of some parts would make the system incomplete and more vulnerable to damage and failures. To maintain the high quality standards of BayWa r.e., we stick with these proven blocks.
- Is any space required on land?
All inverters and transformers for our system float on the water, so there is no extra space required on land except for a small station to connect the park to the grid, and possibly a container for spare parts.
- Durability/Safety: What happens to Floating-PV systems when the water surface freezes?
The substructure is similar to those we use for ground-mounted plants, and the floating pontoons are made of HDPE. This material has been used for many years in other offshore applications, such as harbours or floating platforms. The pontoons consist of two layers – an inner recyclable layer and an external layer with high UV persistence, resulting in a long-term quality. The pontoons are also designed to withstand ice in the event that the lake freezes. Snow and ice, fire, pressure and UV irradiation are all considered long before construction, and the anchoring concept is designed to adhere to all Eurocode safety factors.
- In which countries is BayWa r.e. installing Floating-PV systems?
At the moment we are focusing on the European market. But, as a global company, we are also looking for opportunities around the world, e.g. in the APAC region.
- Is it possible to use the water for Floating-PV and other purposes (e.g. recreational use) simultaneously?
That would be possible in theory, but we are currently focusing primarily on bodies of water such as sand pits, coal mining areas and water storage facilities, which are not used for recreation or tourism. There are many unused areas of water that could assume a new function, making it unnecessary to use those with high recreational value or major visual impact, thus avoiding any conflict of interest with the current users.
- Which waters are suitable for Floating-PV systems?
In principle, our Floating-PV solution can be installed on all inland waters with moderate snow load, which have water reserves all year round. However, in order to avoid competition with the recreational use of many domestic waters, we focus exclusively on (formerly) commercially used, artificial waters, such as reservoirs or quarry lakes resulting from gravel or coal mining.
- Are there any safety issues related to electricity on water?
No. Our Floating-PV systems fulfil all electrical regulations relating to the installation of electrical systems. We install a perfect grounding system to protect the system from any electrical failures. Our systems are reviewed and certified by the independent company VDE and are compliant with all electrical regulations and standards. We use the highest standard of cables and components, certified for use in water. Nevertheless, our cabling design is kept completely out of the water, hidden under the subconstruction of the floating boats, so that cables are protected from the sun and have only minimum contact with the water. This also guarantees the long life of the construction and easy maintenance.
- Is there any impact on water quality?
We have not seen any negative impact on water quality. Qualitative and quantitative studies are currently under way. With the patent-registered Zim Float, developed together with Zimmermann, we allow maximum water movement beneath the system. We expect less algae build-up due to moderate shadows underneath the construction – certain types of algae require substantial light to grow, so a reduction of these varieties might result. Other varieties thrive in the shade, but we use a specific type of glass/glass modules in our system which let a lot of light through, so they only cast moderate shadows. We think this could create the ideal conditions for avoiding excessive growth of both kinds of algae.
An initial study by scientists at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands shows that the water quality under PV modules remains very good: click here for the study.
- Does the system impact marine life or birds?
We don’t expect any negative impact on fauna. At our first parks in the Netherlands, we can already see birds sitting on the system and resting just next to it. Qualitative and quantitative studies are currently under way.
- Who will operate and manage my Floating-PV plant?
The plant will be operated and managed by BayWa r.e.’s expert O&M team, who have already gained experience from our initial floating projects in the Netherlands. Remote 24/7 monitoring is guaranteed from our control centre based in Munich.
- How can you ensure the safety of the system and especially the safety of individuals using the water as a lake for swimming?
Our Floating-PV systems fulfil all electrical regulations relating to the installation of electrical systems. We install a perfect grounding system to protect the system from any electrical failures. Our systems are reviewed and certified by the independent company VDE and are compliant with all electrical regulations and standards. Furthermore, we focus on lakes that are not used for recreational purposes.
- What about visual impact and conflict with tourism?
We are primarily looking at non-recreational waters, such as sand and gravel pits, quarry ponds, coal mining areas and water storage facilities, which are not used for tourism. There are many unused waterbodies that could assume a new function, making it unnecessary to use those with high recreational value or major visual impact.
- What needs to happen for Floating-PV to move forward across Spain?
Subsidisation or a lowering of prices for PV system components will help floating solar become a reality in Spain.
- What is the potential of Floating-PV systems in Spain?
According to a Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we have a technical potential for FPV in Spain of 3GWp with a yield of 1,745 MWh/MWp.
- Are there any support schemes in place in Spain and other European countries?
In Spain, there are currently no specific support schemes available but with some bodies of water it might be possible to participate in national tenders where innovation is a key criteria. In the Netherlands, Floating-PV is currently subsidised through the same tariffs as ground-mounted projects, but a new tariff might soon be introduced specifically for Floating-PV.
- Is floating solar energy more expensive than ground-mounted PV?
Floating-PV is still more expensive than ground-mounted PV, but it also generates higher yields due to the cooling effect of the water, and costs are constantly dropping due to technical improvement.
- Are you able to build subsidy-free Floating-PV?
Subsidy-free Floating-PV is still a challenge but with installations of 50 MW or more we can already reach grid parity for floating solar in Spain.