Today, the growth of the floating solar power industry is unstoppable. Floating solar is more cost-competitive than ground-based PV in Southern Europe. Researchers have evaluated the economic viability of utility-scale floating solar arrays in Europe, determined that such projects are cost-competitive in several Southern European countries, and claim that if capital costs were reduced by 12%, the competitiveness of floating PV would be pushed throughout Europe. Norway’s extensive experience and long history in the maritime, offshore and energy sectors make it a worthy leader in this area of technology development and innovation.
By 2050, the world’s demand for electricity is expected to double. By that time, the share of fossil fuels in the energy mix will have to be reduced. A study from DNV GL shows that 70% of electricity demand must be provided by solar and wind power if the Paris Agreement targets are to be met.
Floating solar power is a relatively new technology and a niche market in the solar sector at the moment – how exactly does it work?
Inger Strand is responsible for business development in the Norwegian Solar Energy Cluster, an organization that promotes the development of the solar industry in Norway and around the world. “You must have seen solar panels on the roof. Floating solar is actually a row of solar panels on a floating facility placed on the water,” Strand explains.
Advantages Of Floating Solar
Solar energy is considered to be the energy of the future because it is not only clean, but inexhaustible. But building solar farms requires large areas of land, something that is difficult to meet near cities that lack space, and developing solar energy over water solves this problem.
Floating solar power is an environmentally friendly solution that provides electricity to more people and also leaves a large area of land for other uses, such as A for farming. Using the sea is a very smart approach. Half of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, and three-quarters of major cities are located by the sea. Not only does this shorten the path from production to consumption, but it is also a more cost-effective solution than acquiring expensive land.
The market demand for floating solar power is also growing steadily, Strand said. The Norwegian company notes that this technology is now generating significant demand both domestically and internationally in Norway. The challenges for floating solar power are waves on the sea, salt water erosion and the effects of bad weather, which the Norwegians have become adept at dealing with. Norway’s industry partners can take full advantage of its expertise and technology in the oil, offshore, aquaculture and power generation industries.
Focus On Global Markets
In Norway, the electricity generated by floating solar farms can be supplied to areas near the facility, to electric ferries, to commercial buildings or sold directly to electricity suppliers.
Energy companies that build hydroelectric power plants around the world also see double the benefits if they use the reservoirs for floating solar power. The advantage for these companies is that they have the power transmission infrastructure already in place.
Floating solar technology has tremendous growth potential worldwide, “especially in Asia, which is currently the most important market for floating solar power, with several large floating solar farms already completed on the water,” Strand said.
In 2021, SolarDuck announced the first solar demonstration project to use its floating structure technology for estuarine, natural harbor and offshore sites, deploying a 64 kW system at an inshore site on the Waal (Rhine) River near IJzendoorn in the Dutch province of Gelderland.
Recently, Tokyu Land and Dutch offshore PV specialist SolarDuck will develop a floating solar project in the Tokyo Bay area. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has awarded Japanese real estate company Tokyu Land a contract to build an offshore floating PV demonstration project in the Tokyo Bay area.