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Floating solar PV could be a ‘game changer,’ research firm says

Manufacturers have made big investments in R&D work to improve floating support materials, designs, mooring and anchoring technologies, and sun-tracking systems.

Floating solar photovoltaics (FSPVs) may be a game-changer in the renewable energy sector, according to analysis by Frost & Sullivan. 

Conventional land-based solar power is challenged by rising land acquisition costs brought on by population growth, the analysis said. FSPVs do not require land and float on bodies of water, including reservoirs, hydroelectric dams, and artificial lakes. 

As a result, floating solar technology manufacturers have made significant investments in research and development (R&D) work to improve floating support materials, designs, mooring and anchoring technologies, and sun-tracking systems.

“Floating solar will increase in value as land scarcity-related issues become more prominent,” said Paritosh Doshi, Energy & Environment senior research analyst.  In addition, floating solar power plants reduce evaporation on bodies of water, which Doshi said will drive the adoption of floating solar during the next decade as a technology that achieves sustainable energy production while conserving water.

Floating solar involves expensive infrastructure made up of floating supports and mooring and anchoring systems to transport the electricity to onshore areas. This pushes companies to minimize such costs by collaborating with hydropower plant operators, Doshi said. Doing so will allow floating solar plants to use the transmission infrastructure used by hydropower plants.

The report said that market players should collaborate with hydropower generators to deploy FSPVs on reservoirs that already produce hydropower. They also should focus on regions with high solar irradiance, as FSPV plants will achieve a higher return on investment.

Players may also look to develop hybrid ocean energy technologies that integrate floating solar, wind energy, and wave energy systems. Doing so could offer better economics and more consistent power generation.

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