Floating PV may reach 4.8 GW globally by 2026, says report


Floating photovoltaics (FPV), or “floatovoltaics,” are expected to establish a sizeable new global market by 2026, said Global Industry Analysts (GIA), which has projected a 4.8 GW deployment by that year. FPV typically features solar panels mounted on a floating structure over a lake or reservoir, often with embedded trackers.

FPV removes the added costs of purchasing or leasing expensive land areas. It also frees up more land area for other uses. And, water bodies are often government-owned; a feature that makes permitting easier to obtain, said the report.

Generally, 1 MW of FPV plant covers water bodies of about 17 to 25 acres and can generate electricity of 1500 MWh, said GIA.

Far Niente Winery in Napa Valley, California has floating solar on its irrigation reservoir.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

While FPV projects often don’t reach the same level power output of ground mounts, they serve land-restricted areas. The systems can offer environmental benefits like managing algal growth and reducing evaporation. Water offers system benefits like cooling the panels, which can reduce degradation and lower maintenance costs, said the report.

The market is currently about 1.6 GW globally, and GIA predicts it will move at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.7% by 2026, reaching 4.8 GW. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to be the largest market share at around 60%, with China the fastest growing market with a CAGR of 59.4%.  FPV’s cost is much higher that that of stationary solar panels, the key hinderance in its growth, said GIA.

GIA said the US has over 24,000 manmade water bodies that are anticipated to be useful in FPV development. Human-made water bodies are preferable for their ability to be managed, and most are located near existing infrastructure and roads.

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