BayWa re’s ECOwind subsidiary and Austrian energy supplier EVN have completed a 24.5 MWp floating solar power plant in Grafenwörth, Austria. They claim it is the largest such installation in Central Europe.
“In Grafenwörth, the challenge was to drive approval procedures and regulations for this new solar power application in Austria and ensure safe construction – which was successful with a level difference of up to 7 meters between the installation surface and the water.“ said Johann Janker, CEO of ECOwind.
The floating solar power system, with an area of approximately 14 hectares, was built on the surface of two ponds in connection with a former sand and gravel pit. The project has 158 inverters and 10 1800 kVA floating transformers. It is expected to produce 26,700 MWh of green electricity per year, which is enough to supply electricity to approximately 7,500 Austrian households.
“Floating solar also benefits from higher electricity production due to the cooling effect of the water, which makes the application very attractive to landowners with unused waterways,“ said Janker.
ECOwind said it regularly conducts research on the fish population and the local dragonfly fauna to ensure the project’s integration with the surrounding ecosystem.
The project is claimed to be the fourth largest floating solar power plant in Europe, along with three projects in the Netherlands – all built by BayWa re. Including the Grafenwörth project, the group has installed a total of 15 floating solar power projects with a capacity of more than 230 MW all over the world.
IHS Markit says that 3.4 GW floating PV capacity It predicted that global floating solar demand will reach up to 14 GW by 2026. About 92% of these installations are likely to be built in the Asia-Pacific region with favorable policies and installation sites, IHS Markit says.
Floating solar is more expensive than ground-mounted solar installations, but land and O&M costs are generally lower. Depending on the location and technology, the output can be up to 30% higher than that of a ground-mounted solar power plant, but more R&D innovations seen as key to cost reduction and continued growth of floating solar energy.