ASTRASUN has taken the first steps towards the realisation of its long-standing plan for a ‘floating’ PV plant - the plans for the pilot projects have been drawn up and an active search for real properties has begun.
Water and solar together
Why are we so interested in the idea of floating solar farms? Water and solar panels are mutually beneficial. The water provides constant cooling to prevent overheating and amplifies the irradiation to the panels. The solar panels provide shade and cover for aquatic life and reduce evaporation and water loss. This creates a sustainable system that serves both wildlife and civilisation. A floating solar farm can also form the basis of an agri-photovoltaic farm (e.g. fish pond, irrigation system).
An undemanding system with specific requirements
ASTRASUN's suppliers provide the special, stable, yet lightweight support structure required for the water installation, and there are prepared professional materials, waiting for the right conditions to be implemented.
Lake with extras
However, it does matter what kind of water the solar system is installed on. On the one hand, it is important that the water must be standing water. Hungary hasn’t got sea, so possible options include fish ponds, mining lakes, cooling ponds, agricultural ponds used for irrigation or watering, filled clay pits and so on. The size of the water surface is very important: although the distance between the panels is only as large as for a rooftop solar power plant, the water surface can only be partially covered by solar panels (up to 50%) to protect the aquatic wildlife.
As the anchorage is on the lake bed and any maintenance is carried out by a diver, a deep lake can cause complications. Assembly is carried out on land and the system is released into the water in a finished state, to which regular access by boat or jetty, must be provided later. The shore of the lake must therefore be easily accessible and wide. Security must also be taken into account: the floating solar power plant is an industrial site and should not be accessed by unauthorised persons. The distance from the water to the electricity grid is also important.
Cost and benefits
Nowdays, the cost of a floating solar power plant is calculated to be almost the same as ground-based systems, but the efficiency will be significantly better, as international research shows. The main motivation, however, is the positive environmental impact - protecting and enriching aquatic life by preventing algae growth and evaporation, and providing shaded habitats under panels. The emergence of floating solar parks on artificial lakes could be the answer to the desertification threatening our country.