Inside the globe's biggest dam-based floating solar energy project

Jan 12, 2021 01:57 PM ET
  • A floating PV solar array prepared for procedure at a dam in South Korea will certainly be the world's biggest built at such a facility. We talked with the group to figure out more about the project and the future possibility of such modern technology.
Inside the globe's biggest dam-based floating solar energy project
Image: Q CELLS

Floating solar innovations utilize vacant bodies of water, such as lakes or man-made basins, to situate and also generate solar power. Advocates of the innovation say that it could scale up the use of sustainable power significantly, particularly in countries that have big populations and minimal spare land, such as in many Asian nations.

Actually, demand for floating solar is expanding exponentially. According to a World Bank report, 'Where Water Meets Sun', set up ability increased more than 100-fold from 2014-2018, to 1.1 GW.

The most significant of its kind to be given the green light until now is a 41MW floating solar (PV) power plant at the Hapcheon Dam in South Korea. Seoul-headquartered Q-CELLS won authorization for the project from K-water (the Korea Water Resources Institute) in November as well as state it will become the world's biggest floating PV created on a dam, in addition to the largest floating PV plant allowed in Korea.

The plant will generate sufficient solar electrical energy to meet the yearly power demands of 60,000 people, which is more than the actual 44,434 population of Hapcheon-gun, the region in which it will be sited. All electrical energy from the project will be marketed to the regional power energy.

The merits of floating solar

The very first floating PV system was integrated in 2007 in Aichi, Japan. Since then, numerous other countries, consisting of France, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Spain, as well as the US have actually tested small systems.

According to Ian Clover, supervisor for corporate interactions at Q CELLS, when compared to onshore setups, floating solar plants can, in the ideal problems, produce up to 10% even more power than a comparable land-based selection.

" This is because the cooling impact of the water ensures solar modules do not run at a more than ideal temperature level, thereby guaranteeing peak power output is much more quickly attained," he discusses.

Furthermore, floating solar plants, he says, are extremely not likely to come across any third-party shading, which suggests they can take pleasure in "much longer, continuous peak performance than numerous onshore plants".

At the Hapcheon Dam, Q CELLS is intending to install its Q.PEAK DUO Poseidon Edition solar panels, which are especially established for floating PV installments and to withstand high temperature and high moisture environments. Evaluating problems for these modules include exposure of greater than 3,000 hours in an atmosphere of 85 ° C and also 85% relative humidity. The style of the varieties for the actual Hapcheon Dam site is inspired by the plum bloom, a symbolic blossom of Hapcheon-gun.

Besides the ornamental display screen, Clover claims that the basic design of a floating PV system resembles land-based systems. Nevertheless, the selections and inverters are placed on a floating system as well as the direct present power produced is gathered by combiner boxes as well as converted to rotating existing by inverters.

He includes that from a design point of view, mounting the Hapcheon Dam floating solar energy plant used no additional or one-of-a-kind difficulties for Q CELLS. In fact, the modern technology is well suited to a dam.

" Adding floating solar to dams makes sense since dams are typically huge, open bodies of water with good roadway accessibility as well as pre-existing framework," clarifies Clover.

Nevertheless, as is traditional, the business did have to perform environmental security examinations to guarantee the setup would not detrimentally impact on the dam or its environmental equilibrium.

" Monitoring examinations showed water quality is unaffected, and there is no considerable distinction in between the water location covered by the power plant and the uncovered water location," he explains.

Boosted price implications

Nevertheless, there are some extra costs related to the installation procedure of a floating solar plant. For example, specially educated installers are needed to service and with water.

" These modules [Q.PEAK DUO Poseidon Edition] cost a little more than standard modules, however, for long-term OPEX point of view, they make ideal economic feeling," discusses Clover.

" Once the solar plant is up and running, procedures and also upkeep costs might vary according to location, yet as more and more floating solar plants are installed around the world, any cost distinction in between floating and also onshore will be closed," he includes.

Nonetheless, professionals state that the precise magnitude of these efficiency benefits, and also whether they outweigh any increase in capital costs, has yet to be verified by larger installments.

Molly Cox, solar PV modern technology systems and also procedures analyst at Wood Mackenzie, created that although prices will certainly be lowered by the enhancing variety of bigger project dimensions, which has been climbing up steadily because 2015 and also is anticipated to continue climbing, lack of empirical information on system performance with time compounds the obstacle.

" As a result, the technical due diligence for floating solar projects typically takes longer compared to a ground mount range of the very same dimension and also area, contributing to greater all-in prices," she claimed.

" These price difficulties, however, will reply to the growth of the market and enhancing project scale -which is exactly what we anticipate to see in the floating solar market over the following couple of years."

A recent report by DNV GL, a worldwide recognized registrar as well as category society, notes that it sees overseas PV as a corresponding modern technology for overseas wind, with solar panels installed in spaces in between wind generators and connected to their transmission lines. On the whole, they expect a floating solar system of about 1MW will certainly be connected to every overseas wind generator in the North Sea from 2025 to 2030.

In June, the company released a collective joint industry project with 14 industry individuals to create the sector's initial suggested practice for floating solar energy projects.

Future gazing

Q CELLS will certainly begin building of the Hapcheon Dam floating solar power plant by the end of 2020. But Clover states that the business remains to keep an eye out for new as well as ingenious options in solar cell as well as module technology as well as for "possibilities worldwide to create large-scale solar power plants, both in the floating area as well as the onshore area".

The World Bank, in its 2018 report, highlights adequate opportunity for floating solar due to the more than 400,000 km2 of manufactured tanks on the planet, 'recommending that floating solar has an academic potential on a terawatt scale'.

On the other hand, analysts at Wood Mackenzie estimate that worldwide floating solar demand will grow by an average of 22% year-over-year from 2019 through 2024. By 2020, it will likely satisfy 2% of international solar need.