- How does Floating-PV benefit lake owners?
Floating-PV is an innovative way to generate additional value from your water body. You can benefit from long-term lease income on areas that was previously unused, while promoting sustainability and the use of renewable energy. You can also become the owner of the floating plant by purchasing it. The electricity can be used for your own consumption, thus reducing and securing your energy costs in the long term and avoiding possible CO2 taxes. Furthermore, you can also sell the generated green electricity to other companies or feed it into the public grid.
Operators of hydroelectric power plants and dams benefit from the dual use of the reservoir to maximize energy production. During the day, electricity is covered by the floating solar array and water can be conserved. In the evening hours, the saved water is used in the turbines of the hydropower plant to generate electricity. This is also referred to as a "virtual battery". In addition, Floating-PV reduces evaporation from the reservoirs and the existing grid connection can be used. A real win-win situation.
- What are the benefits of a partnership with BayWa r.e.?
With more than 30 years of experience in the field of renewables and 230 MWp of installed floating PV, we can draw on a wealth of expertise. We are a quality-oriented full-service / EPC provider with a strong financial background and a close network of suppliers and subcontractors to deliver high quality at competitive costs. Our parent company BayWa AG generates annual turnover of € 17.2 billion.
- Does the system impact marine life or birds?
Since the commissioning of our first projects in the Netherlands, we have conducted studies to monitor and assess the impact of our parks on the aquatic ecosystem and the surrounding environment, with the support and in collaboration with independent research institutes and universities. Completed studies and interim results show that the impact on the aquatic ecosystem is low to non-existent, while in some cases even promoting biodiversity of fish and invertebrate species, as shown by our case study on the so-called "biohuts" in Bomhofsplas. Birds also like to stay in and around our parks. Conducted bird counts have so far not detected any decline in the population.
- Is there any impact on water quality?
We have not detected any negative effects on water quality. Qualitative and quantitative studies are currently being conducted in cooperation with universities to measure and monitor water quality. With the patent pending "Zim Float", which was developed together with our supplier Zimmermann, we enable free water movement under the system. Due to the use of translucent modules, we expect less algae formation and moderate shading under the structure.
The HDPE floats have been subjected to leaching tests in the laboratory as well as in practice, which confirmed that they are also suitable for use in drinking water dams.
- Are there any safety issues related to electricity on water?
No. Our implemented Floating-PV projects comply with all electrotechnical regulations for the installation of electrical equipment. In addition, the system is equipped with an earthing system. Our system are tested and certified by the German Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (German: Verband der Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik e. V. (VDE)) and comply with all electrical regulations and standards. We use only high quality components that are approved for use in water. Due to the modular design, only the floats have direct water contact, so the other components are not exposed to water or sun. This allows us to guarantee durability and easy maintenance.
- Which waters are suitable for Floating-PV systems?
In principle, our Floating-PV solution can be installed on all inland waters with moderate snow load, which have water reserves all year round. However, in order to avoid competition with the recreational use of many domestic waters, we focus exclusively on (formerly) commercially used, artificial waters, such as reservoirs or quarry lakes resulting from gravel or coal mining.
- Is it possible to use the water for Floating-PV and other purposes (e.g. recreational use) simultaneously?
Our focus of Floating-PV projects is on artificial waters such as disused quarry lakes or former coal mining areas that are not used for tourism purposes. In principle, it is possible to combine dual use of water bodies with recreational activities.
- In which countries is BayWa r.e. installing Floating-PV systems?
We currently have 15 installed projects with a total capacity of 230 MWp, of which are 12 in the Netherlands, one in Germany, one in Austria and another in Thailand. Europe is our core market. As a global trading company, we are also looking for worldwide opportunities.
- Can the Floating-PV system be removed from the water body?
The Floating-PV system can be dismantled after use. All components can be recycled and re-used.
- Durability/Safety: What happens to Floating-PV systems when the water surface freezes?
The floating pontoons are made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This material has been used in the marine industry for years for offshore applications (e. g. floating platforms). Our pontoons are made of two layers – an inner, recyclable layer and an outer layer with high UV resistance, which provides durability. According to a long-term UV simulation test, the pontoons remain stable under more than 20 years. Due to the optimized design, the pontoons have been constructed to withstand possible ice pressure in case the lake freezes over. Furthermore, the material is difficult to ignite. The design of the mooring complies with all Eurocode requirements.
- Is any space required on land?
All inverters and transformers for our system float on the water, so no additional space is needed on land for the Floating-PV system. Depending on the anchoring technology, only minimal area is required for the placement of anchors in the shore area. A temporary mounting area on the shore is needed for the construction phase.
- Is Floating-PV a proven technology?
Floating-PV is not a new technology, but a new application of an already existing technology. Our Floating-PV systems meet all Eurocode standards and are certified by the German Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (German: Verband der Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik e. V. (VDE)). Through 1 GWp realized ground-mounted projects the Floating-PV system was developed from in-house know-how. Due to the 24/7 monitoring of BayWa r.e. Operation Services GmbH, investors are guaranteed a smooth operation over the entire runtime. In addition to power generation, other parameters such as the position of the plant are monitored via GPS.
- What is the average lifespan of a Floating-PV system?
Our floating parks are designed for a service life of more than 30 years – just like ground-mounted systems.
- What are the advantages of Floating-PV compared to rooftop and ground-mounted PV?
Compared to ground-mounted systems, the advantage is that no land is taken up and thus a contribution can be made against any land use conflicts. Compared to rooftop systems, larger systems can be realized at lower power generation costs (capex and opex).
- Who will operate and manage my Floating-PV plant?
The plant can be operated and managed by our experts at BayWa r.e. Operation Services GmbH, who already have experience from other floating projects. 24/7 remote monitoring is guaranteed from our control center in Munich.
- How do bird droppings impact the energy yield?
Since the birds only stay at the edges of the plant, the droppings do not have a significant impact on the yield. Detailed analyses were carried out on this in the first projects. Only a small part of the modules showed a slightly reduced production. Rain cleans the modules on its own, so the effects are only temporary.
- How can BayWa r.e. ensure the safety of the facility and, in particular, the safety of people using the water as a bathing lake?
The Floating-PV systems we install comply with all electrotechnical regulations. We install a grounding system to protect the system from electrical failures. Our systems are tested and certified by the German Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (German: Verband der Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik e. V. (VDE)). We focus on artificial and unused waters that are not used for recreational purposes.
- Are there support programs in Germany and other European countries?
In Germany, floating solar systems have been eligible for compensation in the innovation tender or in the normal solar tender of the Federal Network Agency since 2022. However, the additional costs compared to ground-mounted solar systems are not remunerated separately, making fair competition difficult. According to the Water Resources Act, floating solar plants may only be built on artificial or heavily modified water bodies with a maximum coverage of 15% of the water surface. There is an urgent need for political action in this regard.
- What is the potential for Floating-PV in Europe?
According to a World Bank study, there is a potential of 204 GWp in Europe alone if we use 10% of man-made inland freshwater reservoirs (Source: Where Sun Meets Water, Floating Solar Market Report, 2019 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank, page 57, chart). Currently, only about 0.15% of this potential has been installed, so the market still has tremendous growth potential.
- Is floating solar more expensive than ground-mounted PV?
Floating-PV is still more expensive than ground-mounted systems. However, due to the cooling effect of the water, higher yields can be achieved. In addition, the lease costs for the land areas are lower and the maintenance costs are lower.
- Is it possible to build Floating-PV subsidy-free?
That depends very much on the individual projects, the size, the location and the nature of the water body. But we have already shown with our first subsidy-free Floating-PV project in Germany that subsidy-free Floating-PV is possible.