- Floating solar panel based plant or farm is an arrangement of photovoltaic solar panels on a structure that floats on a water body, which is generally a lake or reservoir. Solar panels used in the construction of floating solar farms are known as floating solar panels.
- It is a new method of utilizing water surface available on dams, reservoirs, and other water bodies for the generation of solar energy
- The impetus to develop floating solar panels/plants over land-based plants is leading to an increase in prices of undeveloped land with solar potential
- According to the IEA, a minimum 80 GW of solar capacity was installed worldwide in 2018, a rise of about 48% compared to that in 2019. Companies are constantly conducting research and development activities to increase the overall efficiency of solar panels and systems.
- Floating solar panels/plants help conserve water through reduction of evaporation, and increase power generation due to the cooling effect of solar panels
Advantages of Floating Solar Panels over Land-based Solar System to Drive Market
- Floating solar panels eliminate the requirement of expensive land areas, especially farmlands, which are near any substation, for harvesting solar power
- This significantly lowers the price of solar power generation and also frees the land for other purposes
- The requirement of land for solar installation has driven the prices of even arid wastelands to more than 10 to 20 times in most of the countries
- These high prices of land reflect in the total cost of generation of solar power. However, floating solar panels are installed on water surfaces; hence, they require surface of water bodies that are not used for any other purposes.
- Installation of floating solar panels does not involve civil work or any removal of plantation as required in land-based solar installations
- Floating solar panel/plants generally generate more electricity than ground-mounted and rooftop systems due to the cooling effect of the water
- The overall maintenance of the plant is low compared to land-based system. This results in significant saving of operational costs in the long run.
- Increase in awareness about floating solar panels and solar power generation is projected to drive the floating solar panels market during the forecast period
- Rise in investments in the renewable energy sector is also expected to boost the market
Thus, growth in land issues and availability of water bodies is projected to augment the floating solar market in the near future
High Installation Cost of Floating Solar Panels/plants to Restrain Market
- Installation of a floating solar panels/system requires special floaters that are anchored at the bottom of the reservoir to prevent the movement of the panels due to the wind
- The tracking technology is in the nascent stage. The overall cost of technology is higher than the stationary type, which affects the project cost.
- High installation cost associated with the floating solar panel/system is a major restraint of the global floating solar panels market
- High investment cost also jeopardizes the profitability of the system and raises issues about project investment
- Companies such as Ciel & Terre provide the option of financing the projects for their customers. They also offer the entire package of project development services to clients along with EPC and operation & maintenance services.
- Governments of various countries such as Brazil, India, and Singapore have evinced interest in this technology. These countries provide financial incentives to the owners of floating solar panel projects.
High Demand for Renewable Energy Source to Create Opportunities
- Demand for renewable energy has been increasing due to the depletion of natural resources such as crude oil, coal, and natural gas; and adverse effects of fossil resources on the environment.
- Solar energy is considered to be renewable source of energy due to the abundant availability of solar power
- Floating solar panels carry various advantages over their land-based counterparts. This is anticipated to boost the demand for floating solar panels, especially in countries and regions with large number of water bodies.
- Availability of trained manpower and government policies are boosting the confidence of investors. Countries facing power crisis are moving toward renewables to meet the shortage of power.
- Floating solar panels provide a highly viable solution over land-based solar power plant
- Companies are constantly conducting research and development activities to increase the overall efficiency of solar panels and systems. A major breakthrough could be tracking floating solar systems.
- A solar tracker traces the movement of the sun and orients the panel by moving it in one or two axis in order to increase the time of exposure of panels to the sunlight. It also helps improve the overall efficiency of the system.
- Recent innovations in floating solar panels and rise in demand for sources of renewable energy are anticipated to boost the market in the near future
Few Large Players Dominate Global Floating Solar Panels Market
- The floating solar panels market is highly dominated by a few large-scale companies operating around the world
- The top three players Yingli Solar, Kyocera Corporation and Sharp Corporation cumulatively accounted for a market share of around 35% in 2018
- Other players operating in the global floating solar market include: Trina Solar Limited, JA Solar Co., Ltd., SPG Solar, Inc., Ciel & Terre International, NOVATON AG, and Solaris Synergy