FLOATING PV ROUND-UP: Portuguese floating tender, Akuo project in France, US’ ‘largest’ FPV project

A floating solar project from Baywa r.e in Europe. Image: BayWa r.e.

A round-up of the latest news from the floating PV market, including the US’ “largest” floating PV plant, Akuo’s floating project in France and Portugal’s tender for FPV.

New Jersey inaugurates North America’s “largest” FPV array

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05 June 2023: North America’s ‘largest’ floating solar (FPV) array was inaugurated at the Canoe Brook reservoir in New Jersey, the US.

New Jersey solar PV developer NJR Clean Energy Ventures developed the 8.9MW project to supply power to state utility New Jersey American Water’s water treatment plant in the Canoe Brook area.

New Jersey is a state where smaller scale floating and distributed solar projects have proven successful, and in February the state made a commitment to 100% of the electricity sold within its borders to be from clean generation sources. Community solar in particular has been successful; Wood Mackenzie forecast that favourable state policies will see community solar expand considerably in NJ.

Woodmac also published a forecast of the world’s FPV market last month, in which it highlighted New Jersey, along with Florida and California, as one of the US states to watch for development in floating PV.

Akuo’s 8.7MW FPV project in France is operational

02 June 2023: The same report said that Europe is fast becoming the world’s second-largest FPV market as the industry looks to reconcile its need for space with the premium cost of land on the continent.

Last week, French-headquartered renewable energy producer Akuo Energy reached operations on an 8.7MWp FPV project in Cintegabelle, near Toulouse. The project is situated on the 19-hectare Cap Vert lake, where Akuo said it has integrated environmental measures like a shielding hedge and panel installations which will reduce evaporation from the lake surface.

It is Akuo’s second FPV installation in France.

A 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) is in place with Octopus Energy for the project and financing was provided by Octopus, the Energy MAIF Transition fund and some regional banks.

Eric Scotto, Akuo’s chairman and co-founder, said: “Floating solar technology is crucial to meeting the energy challenges we must rise to together. At Akuo, we are accelerating this through our latest commissioning. We are also delighted to help a new production business model emerge, hand in hand with a longstanding partner, Octopus Energy, and our financial partners.”

Portugal launches floating tender

26 May 2023: A tender has been released by EDIA – a Portuguese regional infrastructure development company – for 4.5MWp of floating PV spread across five projects. Four reservoirs – Ferreira do Alentejo, Almeidas, Pias, Penedrão and Monte Novo – have been designated for submissions.

This call, the first of a planned four to be announced by the end of the summer, will represent €4.32 million (US$4.61 million) in investment and includes the execution, construction and operation contracts for the projects.

The four planned tenders are targeting a total of up to 70MW of floating PV, EDIA said,  with an ultimate investment value of around €60 million (US$64 million). Details of later calls were not given.

EDIA said that, as well as addressing land use issues, FPV installations can be more efficient than standard ground-mount PV due to the cooling effect of the water on the underside of the panel; they can also promote the health of the body of water beneath them, shading the surface and promoting algae growth. Reducing surface evaporation can also reduce water distribution costs for reservoir-based projects.

PV Tech Premium explored the development of floating solar technology, construction and deployment earlier this year.

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