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Floating-PV FAQs

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Lake Owners/Co-Developers

  • How does Floating-PV benefit owners of bodies of waters?

    It offers a way for you to play a part in the energy transition and the creation of a more sustainable world – and at the same time, benefit from long-term rental income. 

    By buying or using hire purchase, you can become the owner of the floating system. You can use the electricity generated from the installation for your own needs, securing your energy costs for the long term and avoiding possible CO2 taxes. Alternatively, you can sell the electricity on to another company.

    If you are the operator of hydroelectric power stations you can benefit from dual use of the reservoir to maximise energy production. A floating solar installation will deliver electricity at times of high solar irradiation, while at low irradiation or at night, the hydro technology delivers electricity. 

    Floating-PV systems have been proven to reduce evaporation from reservoirs. And the existing grid connection can be used, which means a reduction in installation costs. A real win-win situation.

  • Why should I partner with BayWa r.e.?

    We have 30+ years of experience in the field of renewables, enabling us to draw on extensive know-how. A financially secure company, BayWa r.e. is a quality-focused, full-service provider. Our parent company BayWa AG generated an annual turnover of 17.2 billion euros.

  • Will marine life or birds be affected by floating PV?

    Floating-PV brings a new lease of life for areas of water, from disused coal quarries and mineral extraction pits. At our Floating-PV parks in the Netherlands, for example, birds are already sitting on the system and resting just next to it. We’re measuring longer-term impacts and qualitative and quantitative research studies are currently underway. At our Bomhofsplas Floating-PV Park, we installed 20 underwater ‘bio huts’ along the system’s edges. These are filled with shells and wooden material, to provide shelter and food for fish and vertebrates. We’ll continue to monitor the effect of these measures.

  • Is water quality impacted?

    Qualitative and quantitative studies are currently underway, but we have not yet seen any negative impact on water quality at any of our installations.

    We are enabling maximum water movement beneath installations by using the patent-registered Zim Float, developed together with Zimmermann GmbH & Co. KG. 

    We anticipate that there will be reduced algae build-up due to moderate shadows underneath the construction. Certain types of algae require substantial light to grow, so a reduction of these varieties is likely. Although other varieties thrive in the shade, we use a specific type of glass/glass modules in our system which let a lot of light through. This means they only cast moderate shadows. We think our approach could create the ideal conditions for avoiding excessive growth of both kinds of algae.

    Research by scientists at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands shows that the water quality under PV modules remains very good: click here for the study.

  • Are water and electricity really a safe mix?

    Our systems are very safe. They meet all electrical regulation and installation requirements. The perfect grounding systems we install protect the system from any electrical failures. They are independently reviewed and certified by VDE and comply with all electrical regulations and standards. 

    The cables and components we use are of the highest quality and are certified for use in water. At the same time, our cabling design is kept completely out of the water, hidden under the sub-construction of the floating boats. This design means cables have only minimal contact with the water and are also protected from the sun. This approach guarantees a longer life for the installation and offers easy maintenance.
     

  • Which water bodies are suitable for Floating-PV systems?

    Our systems can be installed on all inland waters which have water reserves all year round and moderate snow load. To avoid competition with recreational use of many bodies of water, we prefer to focus exclusively on formerly commercially used artificial waters. This includes reservoirs or quarry lakes resulting from gravel or coal mining, and artificial fishponds.  

  • Can Floating PV be combined with other uses – for example, recreational activities such as sailing and fishing?

    In theory, yes. However, we are currently focusing primarily on bodies of water such as sandpits, coal mining areas, and water storage facilities which are not used for recreation or tourism. As there are many unused areas of water that lend themselves to Floating-PV, it makes more sense to concentrate on these rather than those with high recreational value or major visual impact. This avoids any conflict of interest with the current users.

  • What happens if the water freezes – is the installation still safe?

    The materials we use are very safe and robust. A Floating-PV substructure is similar to those we use for ground-mounted plants, and the floating pontoons are made of HDPE. This material has been used for many years in other offshore applications, such as harbours and floating platforms, and so are tried and tested. 
    The pontoons consist of an inner recyclable layer and an external layer with high UV persistence, delivering long-term quality and serviceability. They are designed to withstand ice in the event that the lake freezes. Snow and ice, fire, pressure and UV irradiation are all considered as part of the design and development, and the anchoring concepts meet all Eurocode safety factors.

  • How much space on the nearby land is needed?

    Except for a small station to connect the system to the grid, and possibly a container for spare parts, there’s no requirement for land to be set aside. All inverters and transformers for our systems float on the water.

  • Why can’t we build smaller than 2 MWp?

    We want to maintain high quality standards in all our installation. We have electrically and mechanically designed, simulated and tested in 2MWp standard blocks, including the required inverter and transformer units. Any modification or removal of parts would make the system incomplete and more vulnerable to damage and failures.

Banks and Investors

  • Is Floating-PV a proven technology?

    Rather than a new technology, Floating-PV is simply a different  application of an existing technology. BayWa r.e.’s Floating-PV systems meet all Eurocode standards and are independently certified by VDE. 

    Using our decades of experience and knowledge, we have to date successfully installed more than 2.6 GWp of solar plant output which is maintained by BayWa r.e.’s expert O&M unit

    Our expertise and attention to detail ensures investors a smooth operation over the lifetime of the project.

    Our 24-hour position monitoring service, ensures we also know the exact location of the Floating-PV system, which further increases safety, and supports timely maintenance and repair. The return, risk, and administration associated with investment in Floating-PV are the same as for ground-mounted projects.

  • What is the average lifespan of a Floating-PV system?

    Our systems are designed for 30+ years  of life – the same as for ground-mounted installations.

  • What are the advantages of Floating-PV compared to rooftop and ground-mounted PV?

    The main advantage of Floating-PV is that no agricultural land is used, avoiding any conflict with food production requirements or pressure on land use. 

    Much larger systems can be realised at lower LCOE (CAPEX and OPEX) than is the case with land-based equivalents. The construction and maintenance of Floating-PV plants also presents lower risks for our employees than rooftop installations.
     

  • What are the disadvantages of Floating-PV compared with rooftop and ground-mounted PV?

    Floating-PV is currently more expensive than ground-mounted PV. However, it also generates higher yields due to the cooling effect of the water, and costs are continuing to reduce due to technological improvements. Compact installation and the use of smart cabling keep electricity consumption very low. We use the same solar panels and technical components for both our land and water-based solutions. We guarantee reliable energy production and secure long-term yields from both avenues.

  • Who will operate and manage my Floating-PV plant?

    The plant will be operated and managed by our BayWa r.e. O&M expert team. The team has considerable experience gained from our Floating-PV projects in the Netherlands and Germany. Remote 24/7 monitoring is provided by our control centre.

Local authorities

  • Can you ensure the safety of the system and especially the safety of individuals using the water as a location for swimming?

    Our systems are very safe. They meet all electrical regulation and installation requirements. The perfect grounding systems we install protect the system from any electrical failures. They are independently reviewed and certified by VDE and comply with all electrical regulations and standards. 

    As our development focus is on areas of water formerly in commercial use, rather than those currently used for recreational purposes, the issue of swimmer safety does not arise.
     

  • Is there any conflict with tourism?

    Our focus is on bodies of water previously in commercial use, such as sand and gravel pits, quarry ponds, coal mining areas, water storage facilities, and fishponds, which are not used for tourism. There are many unused water bodies that could enjoy a new lease of life and help towards carbon reduction targets. We don’t see the necessity to use those with high recreational value or major visual impact.

  • Could floating solar systems be the future of photovoltaics?

    Absolutely yes! Along with ground-mounted photovoltaics and rooftop PV systems, Floating-PV will become increasingly important and make a significant contribution to advancing the energy transition in a land-neutral manner. Increasingly, Floating-PV is being referred to as the third pillar of solar energy. Read more here.

  • What is the potential of Floating-PV systems in Europe?

    The World Bank says there is a potential of 204 GWp in Europe alone if just 10% of our man-made freshwater areas are used (Source: Where Sun Meets Water, Floating Solar Market Report, 2019 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / World Bank, page 57, chart)

  • Is floating solar energy more expensive than ground-mounted PV?

    Floating-PV is currently more expensive than ground-mounted PV. However, it also generates higher yields due to the cooling effect of the water, and costs are constantly dropping due to improvements in technology. Using Floating-PV systems can help reduce conflicts over land use.

  • Are subsidy-free Floating-PV systems possible?

    BayWa r.e. is keen to install subsidy-free Floating-PV systems where it is economically possible, just as we do with ground-mounted systems. A good (water) surface, a nearby grid connection point, and favorable climatic conditions are all crucial elements for this.

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