New research shows that floating solar power plants can have better production characteristics compared to ground-mounted solar power plants in several regions of Bangladesh. Additionally, the study shows that floating arrays on Earth can achieve flat energy costs ranging from $0.0341 to $0.0486/kWh depending on location.
“The FPV plant assessment approach is applied to seven artificial lakes in different regions of Bangladesh,” the researchers noted, noting that the proposed method can allegedly be generalized and applied to any potential floating PV plant assessment. “The viability of each plant is extensively assessed in terms of electricity production, economic effects and participation in the national grid.”
The proposed approach works through the following six steps: 1) Selection of water bodies; 2) selection of PV panels; 3) Calculation of the produced power; 4) Plant design; 5) financial analysis; 6) Comparison with ground-mounted solar power plants.
The team also clarified that it took a “conservative approach” by keeping the floating solar installation to 15 percent of the lake’s total surface area. “However, the survey was also carried out on 20 per cent and 25 per cent of the total area in view of the future expansion of the plant,” it added.
In their analysis, the researchers looked at three water bodies in the Dhaka region of the country’s capital – Dhanmondi Lake, Hatirjheel Lake and Gulshan Lake. “These are the capital’s only man-made waterways,” they elaborated.
They also noted the Joydia Baor, Bukhbhara Haor and Barapukuria lakes outside Dhaka and said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recommended these lakes as potential sites for floating solar energy.
They used PVGIS-SARAH, a global solar radiation database, to determine the installed capacity, required surface area and panel efficiency of the floating project. They found that of the three lakes in Dhaka, Hatirjheel Lake has the potential to generate the most electricity at 19.3 MW and Dhanmondi Lake the least at 5.1 MW, while Gulshan Lake can have 17.1 MW.
As for other lakes, they found that Joydia Baor can use a floating solar power capacity of 34.30 MW, while Bukhbhara Haor and Barapukuria Lakes reach 34.07 MW and 17.43 MW respectively.
“Findings indicate that the proposed plants in Dhaka could meet 1.1% of the city’s total demand and that the Kaptai Lake plants could meet 7% of Chattogram, the country’s port city,” the researchers highlighted. “In terms of economic evaluation (LCOE, NPV and IRR), each of the proposed facilities will demonstrate the viability of the project after implementation.”
The academics also said that the simulated floating solar power plants showed superior production capabilities compared to land-mounted solar power plants. The latter are said to be capable of producing 4.0 kWh/m2 to 6.5 kWh/m2 daily, while floating solar power plants can reach up to 8.3 kWh/m2. “Although the proposed FPV plants initially cost more than inland solar plants, the proposed plants have better production capacity and profitability than inland plants,” they concluded.
In addition, the researchers found that the energy costs of floating solar power plants located in the seven lakes analyzed can range from $0.0341/kWh (Gulshan) to $0.0486/kWh (Dhanmondi).
Their findings were presented in the study “A techno-economic assessment of the power generation potential of floating solar power systems in Bangladesh”, was published Heliyon.