An international group of researchers has calculated the possibilities of floating solar energy around the world. The results show an annual production potential of 9,434 TWh in 114,555 global reservoirs with 30% of their area covered. The United States is the leader with 1,911 TWh per year, China with 1,107 TWh per year and Brazil with 865 TWh per year.
The study considers only global basins larger than 0.01 km2with an area of 30% but no more than 30 kilometers2. Academics used three global databases to filter eligible reservoirs, Global Reservoir and Dam (GRanD), Georeferenced Global Dam and Reservoir (GeoDAR) and OpenStreetMap (OSM). There are a total of 114,555 reservoirs in the world that meet the criteria, with a total area of 554,111 km2. Of these, 2,561 reservoirs already have hydraulic power generation and network infrastructure.
“Unlike previous studies that use empirical formulas to estimate FPV power generation potential, we use technically rigorous PV system performance (PV_LIB, Sandia National Laboratories) that takes into account climatic conditions and the specifications of the PV and inverter used,” the researchers said. .
The solar panel is a Panasonic VBHN235SA06B with a power of 235 W and an efficiency of 18.6%. The 240 V inverter is also from a Japanese manufacturer. The team used data on solar radiation, temperature and wind speed from 2001 to 2020 from the Synoptic 1 degree (SYN1deg) and ECMWF Reanalysis version 5 – Land (ERA5-Land) databases.
The results showed that the average annual power generation potential of FPVs built in global basins is 9,434 TWh with a standard deviation of 29 TWh. Covering 30% of the reservoirs with floating solar energy could also reduce annual water evaporation by 106 km3. If the coverage of the reservoir area is reduced to 20% or 10%, the annual production of FPV would be 7,113 TWh or 4,356 TWh, respectively.
“Globally, the greatest regional potential is concentrated in parts of the United States, eastern Brazil, Portugal, Spain, northern South Africa, Zimbabwe, India and eastern China,” the researchers said.
The results also show that 40 countries have higher FPV potential than current annual electricity demand, with Brazil’s huge 538 TWh annual electricity demand fully covered by a potential FPV production of 865 TWh per year. Zimbabwe, Laos, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Myanmar and Sudan have significantly higher FPV electricity potential than current demand, according to the study.
The results for the top 20 countries for floating solar potential are as follows:
- United States: 1,911 TWh per year
- China: 1,107 TWh per year
- Brazil: 865 TWh per year
- India: 766 TWh per year
- Canada: 506 TWh per year
- Russia: 236 TWh per year
- Mexico: 228 TWh per year
- Australia: 210 TWh per year
- Turkey: 171 TWh per year
- South Africa: 144 TWh per year
- Thailand: 134 TWh per year
- Spain: 132 TWh per year
- Argentina: 117 TWh per year
- Vietnam: 108 TWh per year
- Nigeria: 93 TWh per year
- Iran: 85 TWh per year
- Zimbabwe: 84 TWh per year
- Sri Lanka: 80 TWh per year
- Sweden: 80 TWh per year
- Venezuela: 80 TWh per year
“Achieving this vision will require resolving lingering issues related to policy, planning, financing, regulation, technological support, and construction/maintenance,” the researchers said.
They shared their findings in the paper “Energy production and water savings from floating photovoltaics on global reservoirs”, published recently The sustainability of nature.