NREL evaluates floating solar technology potential in US

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email
Floating PV being installed in Walden, Colorado. (Photo by Dennnis Schroeder/NREL)

The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has evaluated the potential for floating solar (FPV) across the US in a new study, notably highlighting its benefits on water reservoirs in arid regions as well as alongside hydroelectric facilities. 

The US may have claimed the first FPV installation around a decade ago on an irrigation pond in Napa Valley, California but few projects have materialised since. China and Japan have lead FPV installations, while demand is expected to increase across South East Asia and Europe, due to announced projects.
 
According to NREL researchers, FPV projects across more than 24,000 man-made US reservoirs could generate around 10% of US annual electricity production, which would reduce the land requirements for conventional ground mount PV power plants by at least 2.1 million hectares. 

NREL noted that its study had intentionally been conservative in its findings, due to the relative underdevelopment of FPV technology and overall global installations. 

“In the United States, it’s been a niche application; where in other places, it’s really been a necessity,” said Jordan Macknick, the lead energy-water-land analyst for NREL and principal investigator of the project that produced the paper “Floating PV: Assessing the Technical Potential of Photovoltaic Systems on Man-Made Water Bodies in the Continental U.S. “We’re expecting it to take off in the United States, especially in areas that are land-constrained and where there’s a major conflict between solar encroaching on farmland.”

“Floating solar is a new industry enabled by the rapid drop in the price of solar PV modules,” said Warren, director of NREL’s Integrated Applications Center. “The cost of acquiring and developing land is becoming a larger part of the cost of a solar project. In some places, like islands, the price of land is quite high, and we are seeing a rapid adoption of floating solar.”

11 October 2022
PV CellTech Extra will be held as a series of live webinars and on-demand sessions on 11-13 October 2022. We'll be taking a slightly further forward-looking view at the technologies and roadmaps for new cell architectures set to dominate mass production during 2023-2025 with special emphasis on the potential timelines for technologies beyond the single-junction cell design, including perovskite and hybrid concepts.

Read Next

September 23, 2022
Solar accounted for half of all global power generating capacity added last year, with 182GW deployed, a 25% increase on 2020, according to a report from BloombergNEF (BNEF).
September 22, 2022
The RE+ tradeshow has been full of hope, excitement but also short-term questions as the industry considers the significance of the IRA.
September 22, 2022
Qcells has heightened its commitment to the global solar supply chain as its parent company, Hanwha Solutions, increases investment in clean raw materials.
September 22, 2022
Wood Mackenzie has repeated warnings that module supply shortages are set to persist until the end of 2023.
September 21, 2022
Cost certainty, reducing wait times and more flexible agreements with utilities are crucial to solving the US’ interconnections problems that are holding the country back from reaching its renewables targets
September 20, 2022
From module makers and BOS producers to utility-scale developers and community solar companies, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has taken centre stage at this year’s RE+ in Anaheim, California.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
September 27, 2022
15:30 AEST (UTC +10)
Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
On-Demand Webinars, Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event
Upcoming Webinars
October 18, 2022
10am (EDT) / 4pm (CEST)