UK start-up eyes global floating solar market

The system is based on an established pontoon system used for larger infrastructure.

A start-up is launching a pontoon manufacturing facility in the UK with a capacity equivalent of 12MW.

AqvaFloat has commissioned the facility in Whitehaven, Cumbria with a view to additional capacity opening in the US and Asia.

“We’re highly confident in floating solar’s potential across all markets,” said Simon Piggot, founder and MD, AqvaFloat. “We are looking at expansion into the USA to supply projects in the Americas and also into Asia.”

The company is also eyeing the Caribbean market where the combination of high power and land prices creates the perfect storm for floating solar. Markets such as Taiwan, where suitable land for solar is scarce, have already begun pursuing ‘floatovoltaics’.

“That’s where utilizing water bodies begins to make sense. Water companies are early movers since they have high energy demands nearby and land may be in short supply. The added benefits of reduced algal growth and a 10-15% boost in energy yield from the cooling effects of the water are a bonus,” said Piggot.

The AqvaFloat system is being adapted for solar from a pontoon architecture originally designed to support much larger infrastructure. It also incorporate 0.5m wide walkways between rows to enable easy and safe access for O&M crews.

“The AqvaFloat system is unique. Unlike other systems it is based on a tried and tested floating docking system that’s been in production for over 40 years,” said Alex Fornal, head of sales. “Adapted for solar farms, it is cost-effective and highly robust, certified to withstand 135mph winds.”

The pontoons are approved by the UK’s Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) and will have a 20-year warranty.

Fornal also told PV Tech that the company’s mooring system can adapt to large changes in water depth while maintaining the same tension. According to Fornal, some early floating installs have suffered with overly-taut mooring lines in high waters and slack lines reducing the stability of arrays in lower water levels.

“As with all emerging niche markets floating solar boils down to cost,” Fornal concludes. “We are fast approaching parity with on-land systems in some markets and that will be a game-changer.”

4 October 2022
Solar & Storage Finance USA, the only event that connects developers to capital and capital to solar and storage projects, will be back in November 2022.

Read Next

August 11, 2022
Finlay Colville, Solar Media's head of market research, lays out the UK's path to achieving 40GW+ of solar PV by 2030 after rebounding from recent headwinds in its solar sector
July 28, 2022
Iberdrola has recorded a profit of €2.07 billion in H1 2022 with strong performances in its international business offsetting adverse results in Spain.
PV Tech Premium
July 22, 2022
Analysts have flagged concerns over a lack of clarity from Indonesia’s government related to power exports, potentially spelling trouble for project developers looking to transmit renewables generation from the country to neighbouring Singapore.
July 21, 2022
Quality assurance company DNV is collaborating with South Korean floating PV (FPV) component manufacturers to explore business opportunities in the global floating solar market.
July 20, 2022
RWE and floating solar company SolarDuck have partnered to explore the commercialisation of SolarDuck’s offshore floating solar PV (FPV) technology by trailing its potential in harsh environments in the North Sea.
July 19, 2022
Keppel Energy Nexus has landed a contract to pilot a membrane-based nearshore floating solar PV (FPV) system at Jurong Island, Singapore using FPV company Ocean Sun’s technology.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
September 7, 2022
15:30 AEST (UTC +10)
Solar Media Events
September 14, 2022
Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event