09/12/2019 – News / Renewables / Sustainable / Innovation / Solar Photovoltaic / Floating Solar Energy
Innovation project aims to reduce cost of floating solar plants
Large-scale floating solar photovoltaic (PV) plants could be one of the solutions for a sustainable energy supply. A new EU project will help to advance this technology and make it more cost-efficient.
Swedish research institute RISE is part of a consortium of Swedish, Spanish and Portuguese players who have just received funding from the EU’s European Maritime and Fishery Fund (EMFF) to develop the technology for anchoring and mooring floating solar cells. The researchers hope not only to optimise the process but also adapt the anchoring to the ocean environment, in a bid to significantly reduce the cost of these innovative floating solar parks.
The project (FRESHER - Floating Solar Energy mooring: Innovative mooring solutions for floating solar energy) will commence this month (November 2019) and will last for two years.
“We are happy to be part of the value chain in such an innovative and emerging market, providing competences to the industry and supporting SMEs,” said John Rune Nielsen, Director Research and Innovation at RISE. Other partners in the FRESHER project are Portuguese utilities giant EDP PP, Portuguese offshore renewables company WaveC and Spanish firm ISIGENERE – developer of the world’s first floating solar system.
Validating new anchoring tech
The main goal of the FRESHER project is to be able to showcase and validate new innovative anchoring technology for floating solar power plants. The new technology results in both greatly improved LCoE (Levelised Costs of Energy) and increased capacity for solar power. Resultantly, the solar power should cost less and provide more energy, in turn allowing ocean-based solar parks to become profitable.
Lars Brandt, CEO of project leader Seaflex – a company that offers flexible and environmentally friendly anchoring and mooring solutions, and which has operated in the marine industry for a long time – said “the development in this project is aimed directly at floating solar cells and is therefore very important to us.”
A 2GW+ opportunity in Portugal alone
Another partner in the project is EDP – the Portuguese energy company which derives 70 per cent of its energy production from renewable sources, and which is already has an active floating solar cell park in northern Portugal – sees a great future for floating solar cells.
“EDP is a pioneer in renewable energy production with more than 11GW of wind and solar installed capacity and has also anticipated technology trends in floating offshore wind or smart grids,” observed João Maciel, Director for EDP CNET. “Floating PV is one of the new technology frontiers to embrace as it explores the synergies between hydro and solar. FRESHER is likely to play a pivotal role in enhancing maturity and competitiveness of such promising technology.
“Portugal has the ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to have 80 per cent of the energy supplied by renewable sources (RES) – a commitment that EDP shared from the first day. Hybridising alternative sources of energy with our hydro fleet is one of the fastest ways to help accomplish this target,” he advised. “Floating photovoltaic, only in Portugal, has a potential of more than 2GW. However, the harsh environment in our dams and competition with other conventional RES technologies requires an optimisation of the mooring designs and a reduction of costs. Our ambition goes in three ways: improve the existing solutions, bring competitive proposals, and contribute for the design in harsher environments, such as the offshore sea water applications.”
Taking the next step
FRESHER's goal is thus to demonstrate that floating solar energy is ready to take the next step and grow in market share. Among the new technologies in the project are so-called PV anchoring suitable for the marine environment, which opens up new markets and uses in the green energy transition. The design is based on lessons learned from previous tests and commercial implementations, as well as experience from the industrial and offshore sectors.
For more details on the floating solar PV project, visit: www.fresher-project.eu
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