Problems of fast depletion of fossil fuel reservoirs and environmental damage due to the emission of greenhouse gases have increased the need for a sustainable energy source.
Solar energy seems to be the best option to meet all the energy requirements for the future. However, setting up large solar power plants requires a huge land area. A floating solar power plant offers the best solution for efficient power generation in today’s scenario.
This power generation system uses large water bodies to set up a floating solar unit to capture sufficient solar energy without the need for land.
How does a Floating Solar Power Plant Function?
Floating power plants have PV solar panels set up on top of water bodies like lakes, dams, or any other water body that is calm to prevent any damage to the panels.
Solar panels on the floating solar power plant are firmly fixed on buoyant structures to keep them afloat on water bodies to receive sufficient sunlight throughout the year. Electric current transfers from these panels to power plants through underwater cables.
Features of Floating Solar Power Plants
The largest floating solar power plants require a different set-up than the world’s largest solar power plant built on the land.
Floating solar plants face constant exposure to harsh climatic conditions. Therefore, this solar module must have the following features for better longevity:
- Rust-resistant horizontal and vertical frames.
- Sturdy buoyancy body to carry load efficiently.
- Lead-free, dustproof, and humidity-resistant solar panels to avoid water and environmental damage.
- Corrosion-resistant Magnesium alloy floating structure to prevent rusting due to continuous exposure to water.
Advantages of a Floating Solar Power Plant
Following are the benefits of installing floating power plants:
- All that a floating solar power plant requires is a still water body like dams, wastewater, or lakes for installation. This assists in saving valuable land area for purposes like cultivation and farming.
- It reduces the growth of algae in freshwater bodies. Algae is harmful to human consumption. Therefore, a floating solar plant plays an important role in maintaining water hygiene.
- Large floating solar plants reduce evaporation processes which assist in the conservation of water while keeping the PV module cool.
- It generates clean energy to reduce the use of harmful fossil fuels.
- Land or rooftop solar panels’ efficiency reduces with time due to continuous exposure to extreme sunlight. On the contrary, the cooling effect of water bodies protects the floating PV panels from heat damage and maintains their efficient function for a longer duration.
Challenges of Setting up a Floating Solar Power Plant
The installation of floating solar plants depends on various factors like environment, climate, technical potential, etc. Some of the significant challenges of setting up a floating solar plant are as follows.
- Mandatory use of high-quality materials to keep the PV panels afloat without causing rust and corrosion.
- Climate change or flood can cause harsh damage to the floating PV setup.
- Lack of skilled workforce for installing solar panels on water bodies.
- Floating solar systems require a huge investment to install a technically sound power generating plant.
- This solar system is not applicable for domestic purposes as it requires a huge sum of money.
Location of World Largest Floating Solar Power Plant
The world’s largest floating solar plant is located near Saemangeum, South Korea, on the shore of the Yellow Sea.
This floating solar plant has a capacity of 2.1 GW and is part of a planned power generation project of up to 3 GW.
The capacity of this floating power generation project is 14 times more than the Huainan solar farm. It generates enough power to meet the everyday requirements of millions of people.
India’s Largest Floating Solar Power Plant
India’s largest floating solar plant is at Omkareshwar dam, Madhya Pradesh, on the Narmada river. It will start operations by 2023.
Have a look at some interesting features of this floating solar plant in India!
- It is going to have a 600 MW solar power capacity.
- The panels can adjust their position according to the level of water in the dam.
- The estimated cost of this project is 410 million dollars or Rs. 30 billion.
- The project’s funding comes from World Bank, Finance Corporation, and Power Grid.
- The efficient design ensures the proper functioning of the solar panels during a flood and high waves while maintaining the structure.
World Largest Floating Solar Plant: Top 5
The following table provides information about the world’s top 5 Floating Solar Plant as per the Power Technology.
|Sl. No.||Floating Solar Plant||Location||Capacity|
|1||Saemangeum floating solar energy project||Yellow Sea, Saemangeum, South Korea||2.1 GW|
|2||Omkareshwar Dam floating solar farm||Narmada river, Madhya Pradesh, India||600 MW|
|3||Hangzhou Fengling Electricity Science Technology’s solar farm||Cixi, Zhejiang Province, China||320 MW|
|4||Three Gorges New Energy’s floating solar farm||Huainan City, Anhui Province, China||150 MW|
|5||Cirata Reservoir floating photovoltaic power project||West Java province, United Arab Emirates||145 MW|
A floating solar power plant is one of the best eco-friendly alternatives for high-capacity power generation. It also helps in preserving land resources for other valuable usages.
In addition, the working efficiency of solar panels in water bodies increases due to the cooling tendency of water.
If all the technical aspects of a floating solar power plant are met during installation, this power generation system can make a massive difference in preserving the environment from pollution damage.
1. Why are floating solar panels set up in artificial water bodies?
Floating solar panels can interrupt the life of marine animals and plants. In addition, the high waves and floods in natural water bodies can destroy the panel structure. Therefore, floating solar plants are installed in artificial water bodies.
2. Can floating solar plants generate enough electricity to power a city?
Floating solar power generation plants are spread across a vast area. Various power plants generate enough electricity to power millions of households and commercial buildings.
3. Are floating solar panels more efficient than land solar power plants?
Floating solar power plants get enough cooling from the water bodies. This increases the efficiency of floating solar panels by nearly 15% compared to land-based solar panels.