Untapped potential exists for blending hydropower, floating PV

Sep 30, 2020 02:20 PM ET
  • Hybrid systems of floating photovoltaic panels and also hydropower plants might hold the technical capacity to create a substantial section of the electricity created yearly around the world, according to an analysis by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Untapped potential exists for blending hydropower, floating PV
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The researchers approximate that adding floating photovoltaic panels to bodies of water that are currently home to hydropower stations could create as much as 7.6 terawatts of possible power a year from the solar PV systems alone, or about 10,600? terawatt-hours of potential yearly generation. Those figures do not include the quantity generated from hydropower.

For comparison, international last electricity usage was just over 22,300 terawatt-hours in 2018, one of the most recent year for which data are available, according to the International Energy Agency.

" This is really optimistic," said Nathan Lee, a scientist with NREL's Integrated Decision Support team and also lead writer of a brand-new paper released in the journal Renewable Energy. "This does not represent what could be economically viable or what the markets could really support. Rather, it is an upper-bound price quote of practical sources that takes into consideration waterbody constraints as well as generation system efficiency."

The article, "Hybrid floating solar photovoltaics-hydropower systems: Benefits and also international analysis of technical possibility," was co-authored by NREL colleagues Ursula Grunwald, Evan Rosenlieb, Heather Mirletz, Alexandra Aznar, Robert Spencer, as well as Sadie Cox.

Floating photovoltaics (PV) remain an incipient modern technology in the United States, yet their usage has actually caught on overseas where room for ground-mounted systems is much less offered. Previous NREL job estimated that mounting floating solar panels on synthetic U.S. storage tanks can produce about 10 percent of the country's yearly electrical power production.

Thus far, just a little crossbreed floating solar/hydropower system has been installed, which is in Portugal.

NREL approximates 379,068 freshwater hydropower reservoirs across the world might hold consolidated floating PV sites with existing hydropower centers. Added siting data is needed prior to any execution due to the fact that some storage tanks might be completely dry during parts of the year or might not be or else conducive to organizing floating PV.

Prospective benefits exist by coupling floating PV with hydropower. As an example, a hybrid system would decrease transmission costs by linking to a typical substation. In addition, the two modern technologies can stabilize each other. The best potential for solar power is during completely dry seasons, while for hydropower stormy periods present the best chance. Under one situation, that suggests operators of a hybrid system might use pumped storage space hydropower to store excess solar generation.

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