Building on the success of floating PV projects in lakes and dams around the world over the past few years, offshore projects have become an emerging opportunity for developers that can arise when in the same place as wind farms.
This article details the opportunities and challenges ahead. Globally, the solar industry continues to grow in popularity, and this variable renewable energy source can be deployed in a range of different regions.
1. Introduction of new technologies at sea
One of the newest and perhaps most important ways to harness solar energy is now at the forefront of the industry. Floating PV projects in offshore and nearshore waters, also known as floating PV.
Successful production of green energy for local areas that are currently difficult to develop due to geographical constraints. Floating PV modules work in much the same way as terrestrial systems, with inverters and arrays fixed on a floating platform.
And combiner boxes that collect direct current after generating electricity, which is then converted into alternating current by a solar inverter. Unlike home solar power system, the current is used for large commercial rather than home storage.
Floating PV can be deployed in oceans, lakes, and rivers, where it can be difficult to set up a power grid. Regions such as the Caribbean, Indonesia and Maldives could benefit greatly from this technology. Pilot projects have been deployed in Europe, where the technology continues to gain momentum as a complementary renewable weapon to decarbonized arsenals.
At the same time, both Norway and Belgium have seen an influx of technology through pilot projects, allowing several European test platforms to experiment with the technology and test its feasibility.
Other pilot projects are also underway globally, and the technology is increasingly likely to scale into a full-scale project. However, we may be thinking about what the opportunities are with this technology.
2. Benefits of marine floating photovoltaic
One of the many benefits of offshore floating PV is that it can coexist with existing technologies to increase the energy production of renewable energy plants.
● Coexist with existing technology
Hydropower plants can be combined with offshore floating PV to increase project capacity. Solar capacity can be used to increase project power generation and can also help manage periods of low water by allowing hydropower plants to operate.
Hydropower is not the only renewable power generation technology being supported. Combined with offshore wind, the benefits of these large structures are maximized. You can also use the off grid solar batteries to store your energy.
● Environment and installation conditions
Other positive effects include the potential to increase energy production by cooling the water body, reducing or even eliminating the obstruction of components by the surrounding environment, eliminating the need for large sites, and being easy to install and deploy.
If solar power is combined with existing offshore wind farms, a large amount of energy can be generated in the North Sea alone. This potential demonstrates the importance of this technology for the solar industry as a whole and for countries transitioning to low-carbon energy systems.
● Wide available space
One of the biggest benefits of using offshore floating PV is the space available. The ocean offers vast areas where this technology can be used, while on land there are many applications competing for space.
The floating state could also ease concerns about building solar power plants on agricultural land. In the UK, in particular, there are growing concerns. By providing a way to generate energy at sea, offshore energy eliminates the problems associated with land scarcity.
Technology can create microgrids for areas or facilities that are not integrated into the wider grid, highlighting the technology's potential in countries with large numbers of islands where it is difficult to establish national grids.
3. About the challenges of the new technologies
The use of offshore floating PV comes with a series of challenges.
● Development costs
Not only are these projects expensive to develop, but there are still many unknowns about this technology and how it will affect ecosystems, especially underwater ecosystems.
● Marine environmental conditions
The required robustness depends largely on the location of the offshore water body. For example, the environment in the North Sea can be very harsh, wave heights above 10 meters are not uncommon, and the situation in the tropics may be less harsh.
● Structural weight
In order to improve fatigue, the structure is usually reinforced, and by reinforcing the structure, the weight increases, the draft increases, and the force inside the floating photovoltaic power plant also increases.
● Fatigue life
Fatigue life is closely related to the cost of capital expenditures. If cost is not important, then designing a floating object that can withstand a 30-year offshore environment is not terribly difficult, but the challenge is to find a solution with a sufficiently long life at an acceptable cost.
4. Commercialization of the technology
It is clear that offshore floating PV plays an important role in the future of renewable energy worldwide. But one of the biggest questions is when the technology will be ready for greater commercialization. Project co-location really helps scale the technology.
This may have an impact on the development of this technology. How markets will adjust their regulatory frameworks to truly accelerate deployment. But this market is growing very fast. It can really make an impact and scale up to GW scale by 2030. Before offshore floating PV can be fully commercialized, there are still some technical issues that need to be overcome.
The companies need to understand the current state of these devices at sea to optimize the use of this technology globally. Top 10 photovoltaic battery companies in the world are on the road to expand the market. Once these problems are overcome, a breakthrough in this technology may be achieved.
5. The expansion of the maritime floating market
In one of the world's most challenging offshore environments, undertaking a number of projects will provide important first-hand experience. These experiences may lead to the rapid commercialization of this technology in the future.
Meanwhile, a 0.5 MW offshore PV demonstration project in the North Sea is expected to be installed in 2023. The North Sea provides the perfect test bed, not only because of its proximity to European countries and offshore wind, but also because of the harsh conditions in this area. Solar energy is a more affordable and accessible source of energy. It makes sense for solar energy to follow the same path.
A large amount of renewable energy can be generated. Integration of photovoltaic systems and offshore wind farms can make efficient use of marine space, achieving twice the energy capacity in the same area.
In the future, offshore PV may be deployed on a GWp scale, which is expected to occur after 2027, which seems reasonable given the innovation in this space and the progress of pilot projects under construction around the world. When this technology is commercialized on a larger scale, its potential will play a crucial role in facilitating the global energy transition.