An increasing number of solar farms is learning how to swim – and for good reason. Modules floating on a lake save space on land. In fact, this innovative technology, known as ‘floating solar,’ offers even more advantages. There is less shade on open waters and their cooling effect increases solar cell efficiency, which promises to deliver higher yields.
This is why floating technology is booming especially in Asia, which has many densely populated regions. We showcased some of the biggest farms on en:former. How are such solar farms built and how does their design differ from that of their conventional variants? Our image gallery presents answers to these questions and shows how RWE installed its first floating PV system in the Netherlands.
This is the lake on which a 6.1 megawatt floating solar farm is to be installed immediately neighbouring the Amer power station in Geertruidenberg in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant. The company has already set up a ground-mounted PV array at this site. In addition, the power plant is gradually being converted to fire biomass.
A crane placing building material on a lakeside construction platform before construction begins.
These are the blocks of concrete to which the floaters, carrying the solar modules will be anchored to.
A crane parked on the platform lowers the anchoring blocks onto the bottom of the lake one by one.
Scuba divers also play their part, attaching anchor cables to the concrete blocks to keep the floaters in place later on.
The next step involves the floaters. They are made of durable plastic capable of easily withstanding the wind and weather for many years, which can be recycled at the end of their service life.
Now electricians mount the solar modules to the floaters that are arranged to form a square. The system is quite clever. Although the modules have firm connections, the lattice-like structure is flexible enough to adjust to water movements. The connecting elements double as standing areas for maintenance work.
The PV modules are slanted to maximise sunlight incidence. Each set of modules, referred to as a 'string,' has a dedicated cable running over the floaters to the shore.
Assembly can be performed from the shore as the pontoons rest on wooden pallets and are guided onto the water using beams. The structure moves farther out onto the lake with every added row of modules.
The solar farm grows row by row. As soon as a square of modules is completed, it can be dragged from the shore to its intended location by boat.
Here is the finished floating solar farm. It remains connected to the lakeside via two catwalks. A total of 13,400 modules was installed on the lake near the power station.