Sungrow completes 7.1MW floating solar plant in Israel

By Dominic Ellis
As Sungrow's installed capacity in Israel nears 150MW, the global FSPV sector is expected to grow to $2.7 billion by 2025

With the completion of Israel's Kfar Ruppin 7.1MW floating power station, Sungrow FPV has provided the floating PV systems for more than 40 of Israel's floating power stations, with total installed capacity nearing 150MW.

The floating power stations will continue to generate clean electricity, helping Israel reach its goal of generating 30 percent of the country's electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. In addition, they can effectively reduce water loss due to evaporation and protect Israel's water resources.

The 40-plus floating PV power stations are expected to generate 230 million kWh of clean electricity annually, which will help  address Israel's local electricity demand, relieve the greenhouse gas emission and environmental pressure as a result of traditional energy structure, and deliver multiple benefits in terms of clean electricity, fish farming, environmental protection and water conservation.

In Israel, with its many deserts and where a lack of water resources is a constant concern, the protection of the country's bodies of water has become an important consideration when constructing floating PV power facilities.

As a result, Sungrow FPV has paid special attention to the mechanical and weathering properties as well as the particularly important environmental performance of the company's products. Their equipment must meet both the safety standard for drinking water and the stringent requirements of Israel's water management laws and regulations.

As most of the floating PV power stations are built on ponds or small reservoirs, it has become the Sungrow FPV's priority to optimize the design of floating arrays while ensuring the safety of the anchoring system, in order to meet customers' requirements for installed capacity while providing temporary anchoring solutions to cope with dry conditions.

To avoid damaging the underwater environment and the underwater impermeable geomembrane, the team has customized the anchoring solutions for many projects, with flexible anchoring methods and without the need for large construction equipment, minimizing the impact on the bodies of water.

Sungrow FPV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sungrow Group, plans to continue to focus on the development and integrated utilization of floating PV power plant technologies, to provide more innovative solutions and application demonstrations for water safety and sustainable development of water resources globally. It has 24 years of R&D and production experience in the PV industry. 

FSPV: A 400GW global opportunity

Floating solar photovoltaic (FSPV) installations open up new opportunities for scaling up solar generating capacity, especially in countries with high population density and competing uses for available land. Globally the Floating Solar market is expected to grow to $2.7 billion by 2025.

There are more than 400,000 sq kms of man-made reservoirs globally, suggesting that floating solar has a theoretical potential on a terawatt scale, purely from the perspective of the available surface area. The most conservative estimate of floating solar’s overall global potential based on available man-made water surfaces exceeds 400GW, which is equal to the 2017 cumulative installed PV capacity globally. 

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) estimates that floating solar systems could meet 10 percent of US electricity needs at 2,100GW and estimates about 2.1 million hectares of land could be saved if solar panels were installed on bodies of water instead of on the ground.

China invests more each year in wind, hydro and solar power than any other country, unveiling the world’s largest floating solar power plant back in 2017. The facility is located in the city of Huainan, in China’s eastern Anhui province. It has a capacity of 40MW, enough to power a small town, and floats over a flooded former coal-mining region, according to the World Economic Forum.

In March 2016, Lightsource Renewable Energy successfully completed and connected Europe’s largest floating solar farm, installing 6.3MW on the Queen Elizabeth II Reservoir, near London (click here).

The capital costs of floating PV are still slightly higher or comparable to those of ground-mounted PV, owing chiefly to the need for floats, moorings, and more resilient electrical components. The cost of floats is expected to drop over time, however, owing to better economies of scale.

When combined with other demonstrated benefits such as higher energy yield, reduced evaporation, and improved water quality, floating solar is likely to be an attractive option for many countries. Although the market is still nascent, there are a sufficient number of experienced suppliers to structure a competitive tender and get a commercial project financed and constructed, and the additional costs appear to be low and are falling rapidly.

"The priority over the next few years should be to carry out strategic deployments of floating solar at sites where it is already economic, while applying the 'precautionary principle' when it comes to possible environmental or social impacts," notes a World Bank report.


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