Many people might wonder what the purpose of deploying PV solar projects on the water is. Floating solar projects involve solar PV panels that are designed for areas having a water body instead of land.
These are similar to the typical solar panels mounted on the rooftops that transform sunlight into electrical energy.
These photovoltaic panels float on water bodies, such as lakes, rivers, seas, oceans, or man-made reservoirs.
Nevertheless, floating solar plants are expensive to install and demand effort for their maintenance. These projects involve different components such as PV modules, floaters, inverters, etc.
One of the biggest reasons why this solar technology is preferred by many countries is that they offer higher productivity than the usual ground-mounted or roof-mounted PV panels.
What is the Significance of Floating Solar Projects?
Solar floating projects involve the use of solar floating panels. Such panels are one of the most inventive devices for harnessing solar power.
Similar to any other solar device, floating panels utilize direct sunlight. But additionally, they use the reflected light from the water surface.
In floating solar plants, the water surrounding the installations causes a considerable change by reducing the temperature.
Remarkably, floating solar projects can be up to 15% more productive in comparison with terrestrial solar projects (as per the Environmental and Energy Study Institute). It is due to the cooling effect of the water.
Moreover, the use of the latest technology in designing such solar panels offers enhanced energy production. The increased productivity of floating solar projects is a significant aspect that contributes to their popularity in the country.
In terms of having the largest floating solar projects, India stands second across the globe.
Working and Components of Floating Solar Projects
The floating photovoltaic panels in floating projects are fabricated to be rust-resistant and buoyant devices so that they can be installed on the water surface.
The floating structure has a coating of magnesium alloy to resist corrosion. Besides, the buoyancy is caused due to use of polyethylene. Also, these panels greatly resist humidity and are lead-free and dust-free too.
The components of a floating photovoltaic project are: PV panels, Floaters, Combiner boxes, Mooring system, Inverter, Transformer, Cable network, Transmission System, and Floating walkways.
The photovoltaic panels capture the solar radiation for its conversion into useful energy. The interconnected plastic rafts used for mounting these PV panels are called Floaters.
The mooring system has anchors to support these floating solar panels from the water surface.
Notably, the combiner box collects the energy yielded from all the panels installed across the floating solar farm and transfers it to the central inverter.
The central inverter converts the DC electricity into AC electricity for use. Then, this power steps down for transmission via the transformer.
There is a network of cables that serve as a medium of connection to coordinate solar panels, combiner boxes, inverters, and transformers.
An Inland connection line, known as the transmission system, transports power wherever it is needed. Lastly, the floating walkways form access points from the inland side.
What are the Advantages And Disadvantages of Floating Solar Projects?
Here are some notable advantages and disadvantages of setting up floating solar projects:
- – No land space needed: The floating solar projects do not need large land areas for their installation. Hence, their installation does not contribute to deforestation.
- – Increased Productivity: As water casts a cooling effect, the productivity of these floating solar projects does not reduce due to high temperatures.
- – Ecological Benefits: It facilitates the reduction of water evaporation and the formation of algae on the water surface.
- – High Upfront Cost: These floating solar projects are more expensive than the usual land-based projects due to the use of advanced equipment.
- – Limited Usability: Floating solar panels are not useful for all sorts of installations. They are mostly suitable for vast installations.
What is the Cost of Floating Solar Projects?
The cost of setting up a floating solar project is higher than terrestrial solar projects. It is because floating solar panels are more expensive than ground-mounted panels.
Presently, the cost of setting up a floating solar project of 1 MW output is between ₹ 50 million to 60 million (i.e., around USD 630,000 to 765,500).
Contrastingly, a typical ground-based solar project can yield the same output for ₹ 4,00,000 to 5,00,000 (USD 5,100 to 6,500). It demonstrates the slack take-off of floating solar technology.
The notable fact is that the cost of floaters used in floating solar projects contributes to approximately 45 to 50% of the total cost. Even after the high-cost factor, these solar projects are advantageous.
Floating solar projects are currently one of the most favourable advancements. For countries like India, which are still developing, these solar power plants are a great source of energy generation.
Several countries with a high population are deploying commercial-scale floating solar farms. Also, it is considered an effort to cope with climate changes.
Though high investment costs seem like a big obstruction, with developments in technology, the costs, and other associated technical hindrances will get slashed.
Q. What is the major difference between the working of floating solar panels and ground-mounted panels?
Floating solar projects work in the same way as ground-mounted systems. The principal difference between both is that floating projects are deployed on floating platforms.
They have combiner boxes to turn solar radiation into DC electricity, and solar inverters transform it into AC electricity.
Q. Are floating solar panels suitable for residential use?
No, floating solar panels are not suitable for domestic or residential usage as they are required to be installed on a reservoir or other water body that the household setup does not have.
They are suitable for large-scale energy generation. The typical rooftop or ground-mounted solar panels are appropriate for residential purposes.
Q. Do floating solar power projects have any negative impact on the environment?
The floating solar projects have several positive impacts on the environment, but it also has some negative impacts.
The major negative environmental impact involves limiting sunlight in the underwater environment if solar floating panels do not have proper spacing.
Q. How can we make floating solar projects more cost-efficient?
Several ways of making floating solar projects cost-efficient are there.
One such way is by deploying a floating solar project in a location having other power generation projects like a hydrothermal power project. It will help slash the cost of energy distribution for floating solar panels.