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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.?

    With more than 30 years of experience in the field of renewables, and 230 MWp installed of Floating-PV, we draw upon extensive know-how. We are a quality-orientated, full-service provider with a strong financial background and a tight network of suppliers and subcontractors to deliver at high quality and competitive costs. We bring the table technology know-how, development capabilities and EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) ability. Our parent company BayWa AG generates an annual turnover of 17.2 billion euros.

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

    Since the beginning of operation of our first projects in the Netherlands, we have been performing studies to monitor and evaluate the impact of our parks on the water ecosystem and on the surroundings, with support and collaboration of independent research institutes and universities. Completed studies and intermediate results show little to no impact on the water ecosystem, while in some cases even promoting bio-diversity of fish and invertebrate species, as shown in our Bomhofsplas biohuts case study, where 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. Birds also like to stop on and around our parks, and bird-counting activities have not shown so far a decrease in bird presence in proximity to our parks.

  • Is water quality impacted?

    We have not seen any negative impact on water quality. Qualitative and quantitative studies are currently under way in collaboration with universities to measure and monitor water quality, with promising results. With the  optimized floating structure system we use, we allow maximum water movement beneath the system. We expect less 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 might occur, which reduces maintenance costs for cleaning of the water body.

    Other varieties thrive in the shade, but we use a specific type of glass/glass modules in our system which ensure good light transparency, so they only cast moderate shadows. We think this creates the ideal conditions for avoiding excessive growth of both kinds of algae.

    The components have undergone in-house as well as third parties leaching tests, which confirmed they are also suitable for use in reservoirs intended for drinking water.

    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 well-designed 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, or in water-proof ducts. This design means cables are protected from the sun and avoid contact with water. This also secures a 30+ years-long life of the construction and easy maintenance.

  • Which bodies of water 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?

    Most of our Floating-PV projects are installed on artificial bodies of water such as decommissioned parts of sand pits, coal mining areas, and water storage facilities, which are not used for recreation or tourism. It is in theory possible to allow dual use of bodies of water with productive or recreational activities, but additional measures to avoid interference between the activities and to avoid risks should be taken. 

  • 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. A launching platform and assembly area are required during construction only.

  • In which countries is BayWa r.e. installing Floating-PV systems?

    We have 15 projects installed at the moment, of which 12 in the Netherlands, 1 in Germany, 1 in Austria and 1 in Thailand, for a total of 230 MWp. We are continually expanding and at the moment we have a secured pipeline of projects in more than 10 countries, between Europe and APAC. In Poland, we also have many bodies of water which are suitable for Floating-PV installations. 

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.

    BayWa r.e. was also part of the Joint Industry Project that led to the publication of the first Recommended Practice for Floating-PV, DNV-RP-0584, and keeps participating in industry-wide activities to increase the safety and reliability of Floating-PV systems.

    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.

  • 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 bodies of water 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.

    Nonetheless, we make sure in design phase that landscape impact is minimized, if needed also by use of compensatory measures around the area.

  • 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). Only around 0.15% of this potential has currently been installed, which leaves huge potential for market growth.

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

    Floating-PV is still slightly more expensive than ground-mounted PV in terms of CAPEX, but it can also generate higher yields due to the cooling effect of the water and has lower OPEX and lower lease costs compared to land. Technology development, net of the current macro-economics trends and disruption in the supply chain, is leading to optimized design and lower costs. 

  • Are subsidy-free Floating-PV systems possible?

    It highly depends on the single projects, on size, location, characteristics of the body of water. But with our first subsidy-free Floating-PV project in Germany, we have already shown that subsidy-free Floating-PV is possible. 

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