Abstract: The high energy demand and the constant depletion of the fossil fuels lead us to shift our focus to renewable energy sources which are not only the future unlimited source of energy, it is also eco-friendly and viable for the environment. Hydro and Wind though are renewable sources but are area specific. Solar energy on the other hand can be installed in any place. The major issue with the solar energy is the requirement of land which is scarcely available in the world and even costly to get. But floating solar plants can be installed in any water bodies which will not only reduce the cost of the land but will increase the amount of generation with the cooling effect of water. This paper concentrates upon the design parameters of the floating platform but will also focus upon the effect of panel shade on the ecosystem.
The two facilities are comprised of 11,256 255-watt Kyocera modules on a high-density polyethylene platform, and are reportedly capable of withstanding typhoon conditions. It is thought that the shade produced by the vast power plants should reduce both algae growth and water evaporation.
Australia could have its first floating solar power plant within months, with construction set to begin on a PV array that will be installed on top of a wastewater treatment facility in Jamestown, South Australia.
Once completed – it could be operational by early April – the Jamestown floating solar plant is expected to produce more than enough energy to power the wastewater treatment facility, with excess power to be exported for use by the township.
Solar panels will be floated at the wastewater facility at Jamestown similar to a current project in France. Image via ABC News, supplied by Infratech Industries
Floating solar arrays take advantage of open water where land space is constrained.
The biggest floating plant, in terms of output, will soon be placed atop the reservoir of Japan's Yamakura Dam in Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo. When completed in March 2016, it will cover 180,000 square meters, hold 50,000 photovoltaic solar panels, and power nearly 5,000 households. It will also offset nearly 8,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. (Since the EPA estimates a typical car releases 4.7 tons of CO2 annually, that's about 1,700 cars' worth of emissions.)
The Yamakura Dam project is a collaboration by Kyocera (a Kyoto-headquartered electronics manufacturer), Ciel et Terre (a French company that designs, finances, and operates photovoltaic installations), and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation.
"Overall, this is a very interesting idea. If successful, it will bring a huge impact," says Yang Yang, a professor of engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles who specializes in photovoltaic solar panels. "However, I do have concerns of its safety against storms and other natural disasters, not to mention corrosion."
Unlike a solar installation on the ground or mounted on a rooftop, floating solar energy plants present relatively new difficulties. For one thing, everything needs to be waterproofed, including the panels and wiring. Plus, a giant, artificial contraption can't just be dropped into a local water supply without certain precautions, such as adherence to regulations on water quality—a relevant concern, particularly if the structure starts to weather away.
"That is one reason we chose Ciel et Terre's floating platforms, which are 100 percent recyclable and made of high-density polyethylene that can withstand ultraviolet rays and corrosion," says Ichiro Ikeda, general manager of Kyocera's solar energy marketing division.
"Earthquakes have no impacts on the floating photovoltaic system, which has no foundation and an adequate anchoring system that ensures its stability," says Eva Pauly, international business manager at Ciel et Terre. "That's a big advantage in a country like Japan."
The technology is fairly simple. Solar panels will be set up on floating platforms which will be anchored firmly so that it does not sway. Scientists in charge of the projects are still working on the ways of securing the platform in case there are strong winds.
Following the government's announcement of setting up 2 lakh mw of solar power generation capacity, prices of barren land earmarked for solar power projects have gone up by at least 20-30 %.
This has been pushing up solar power prices. Water bodies can now offer an alternative solution to this problem. Four acres of land is required to generate 1 mw of solar power at an investment of about Rs 7 crore.
It produces power costing Rs 8 per unit. In contrast, if panels are installed on floating platforms, the area required is likely to be 10-20 % less than 4 acres.
Capital cost for such solar projects will be around Rs 6.5 crore per MW, which will generate power at Rs 7 per unit. It will also qualify for the state and central subsidy that the government provides as part of its solar mission.
Vikram Solar completes India's first floating PV plant.
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