Advantages and Disadvantages of Floating Solar Power Plants

Solar power is a 100% clean, renewable energy source. It reduces reliance on oil, coal and natural gas for electricity production. When it comes to addressing climate change, solar energy is one of the leading solutions, and it's here to stay.

For large solar projects, the solar modules are typically installed on the roof or on the ground. But this is not the only option, solar panels can also be mounted on platforms that float on bodies of water. Although electricity and water don't usually mix, a growing number of floating solar power plants are being deployed worldwide.

Read on to learn about the pros and cons of floating solar power plants.

What Are Floating Solar PV Plants?

Floating solar, also known as floating photovoltaic (FPV) or floatovoltaics, is any sort of solar array that floats on top of a body of water. Solar panels need to be affixed to a buoyant structure that keeps them above the surface. These floating solar panels are mostly found on lakes and basins as they are generally calmer than oceans. It's also common to install floating solar structures on large, man-made bodies of water, such as reservoirs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Floating Solar Power Plants

Floating solar is an eco-friendly method of producing electricity. lt combines marine and renewable energy technology. When it comes to commercial solar needs and massive amounts of empty space, it's actually the most ideal solution.

The Advantages of Floating Solar

Small Solar Floating Power Station

Minimal land consumption: solar power plants, as they are built on water, do not require occupied land space. These installations are characterised by the fact that they are installed on sheets of water that do not interfere with their use, such as water treatment plants, water reservoirs such as reservoirs, hydroelectric dams or irrigation ponds.

Benefits the Environment: The water covered by the panels in the power plants does not heat up, preventing the existing habitat from deteriorating and the formation of algae. Floating solar power plants that can be installed in areas where hydroelectric power plants (HEPP) are located can reduce efficiency losses due to clogging of grids and pipes, as it prevents the formation of algae.

Better inclination angle: In land-type solar power plants, solar panels are mounted with an inclination angle of 20-30 degrees, while this angle is between 5° and 13° in floating solar power plants. This reduces the shading share and enables floating solar power plants to take up less space than field solar power plants.

Increased efficiency: the performance of floating solar panels is much higher as the water on which they are installed produces a cooling effect, which reduces the ambient temperature and increases humidity, improving efficiency by 10-15%.

Reduced maintenance: these panels do not require frequent cleaning. The amount of dust on the surface of the water is less compared to dust on the ground.

They reduce water evaporation: the floating solar panels, by covering a large part of the water surface where they are located, manage to reduce evaporation by 85%, which allows greater use and performance of the reservoir.

Disadvantages of Floating Solar

Solar floating power plant on water

Expensive to Install: You require more money to install floating solar panels than a traditional PV system. One of the main reasons is because the technology is relatively new, thus requires specialized knowledge and equipment. But as with bifacial solar panel systems, the costs of installing floating solar panels are expected to continue to drop as the technology advances.

Limited Application: Floating solar installations don't work for just anyone. The majority of floating solar installations are large-scale and provide power for utility companies, large communities, companies, or municipalities. If you're looking into solar for your home, then it makes much more sense to install a rooftop or ground-mounted system. Therefore, the application range may be limited.

Final Thoughts

Generating renewable energy through floating solar farms is likely to grow as an important part of the effort to address climate change. As the technology develops, the costs and technical challenges are expected to fall. Besides, the demand for floating solar power will also increase.