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Floating photovoltaic power plant design

What is the efficiency of photovoltaic panels installed in a bi-facial configuration?

Bifacial photovoltaic panels benefit from a better waterproofing and are therefore perfectly compatible with floating solar projects. Electricity production is increased thanks to the backside of the panels, even if limited because the light reflection (albedo) is about 8%. Moreover, the cost difference with mono-facial panels is small.

What happens when the water level goes down?

The floating photovoltaic power plant and its anchoring are designed to accommodate water level variations. Due to the flexibility of the mooring lines, the floating photovoltaic panel moves on the surface according to the extent of the water level variation.

What type of anchors can be used?

The type of anchoring proposed for the project is always discussed between the technical teams of Ciel & Terre, Laketricity and the owner of the water body in order to offer the best possible solution. In general, we consider three main types of anchors: drilled anchors, percussion anchors and concrete blocks. If none of these can be used, other types of anchors can be investigated.

What are the different anchoring systems?

Ciel & Terre’s anchoring engineering experts will advise and design the most appropriate anchoring system based on site conditions and site owner preference. There are several types of anchoring systems:

  • At the bottom of the pond
  • On the banks,
  • Hybrid mixing banks and reservoir bottom.

Which information is required for anchoring design?

Anchoring design is performed at an advanced stage of the project when the final design of the floating array is approved. The essential data to complete an anchoring design are:

  • Banks topography,
  • Bathymetry (mapping of water body bottom relief and depths),
  • Water level variation (over the lifetime of the plant),
  • Water flow data and wind speed at the site are calculated from each country national building code.

Can floating photovoltaic panels drift and hit the banks?

The floating solar power plant cannot drift and hit the banks because it is anchored to the bottom and/or the banks of the site. Therefore, the movement of the floating solar power plant is limited by the anchor lines, which give it the flexibility needed for its durability. During the design of the anchoring, the engineering team calculates the movement of the floating PV plant and ensures that it will not hit the banks nor drift.

Is there a size or capacity limitation?

There is no size limit for a full-scale floating photovoltaic installation. For anchoring reasons, large-scale projects must be composed of several PV islands.  

For example, the 70 MWp de Anhui Cecep (China) is composed of 13 floating PV islands.

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