Exploring Floatovoltaics: How Floating Solar PV Could Influence Our Changing Energy Landscape


Energy and water issues are increasingly interrelated
and this work is an example of how NREL addresses that energy/water nexus. Floating solar, it’s an emerging technology,
where you take traditional PV panels and you put them on man-made water bodies. You’re placing them on a floating structure and transmitting the electricity that they generate through an underwater cable to the electrical
equipment that’s onshore. There have been relatively few of these projects
deployed worldwide and even fewer in the U.S. And so, what we tried to do was a first attempt
at quantifying the technical potential that floating solar systems could have in the U.S. We concluded that floating solar can contribute
significantly to the U.S. electric power sector. So, even under conservative estimates, we
think that this resource could contribute to around 10% of current electricity generation
in the U.S. We also looked at where water evaporation
losses are the greatest in the U.S. and matched that with the solar resource potential to see
where this resource could contribute to evaporation reductions. We also looked at places in the U.S. where
land values are extremely high and determined that these could be good places to deploy
floating solar on water bodies because of that high land value and the premium on that
land. This project engaged members across the laboratory
because this is essential for an emerging application like this. There are only a little over 100 projects
worldwide, so we still don’t have a very good understanding of the technical performance
over time of these systems, and a variety of other issues that are unique to this application. NREL is uniquely positioned to answer some
of those questions because our research portfolio spans material science questions related to
this technology and some of the policy and techno-economic issues related around this new technology, including how to expand this technology’s use in the marketplace.

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1 thought on “Exploring Floatovoltaics: How Floating Solar PV Could Influence Our Changing Energy Landscape”

  1. National Renewable Energy Laboratory - NREL says:

    Please note: At 0:16, the caption should read 1.5-MW system (instead of kW).

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