From a little known niche just a few years ago, floating solar has quickly grown to more than 1 GW of installed capacity worldwide, and a source of great hope for the industry’s future, particularly in countries where space for solar is at a premium. pv magazine spoke with experts from leading floating PV test centers in Singapore and the Netherlands to outline the challenges still faced by floating PV as the technology moves towards major growth.
Policy, it seems, will be a key decider for future growth in floating solar elsewhere. Though it may lack the volume and global influence of China’s PV market, the Netherlands provides an excellent example: On the surface, the country is a perfect fit for floating PV – it has shown a strong commitment to solar in recent years, has limited land availability, and has a long history as a world leader in engineering and water management. But floating solar installations are yet to appear here, possibly thanks to the lack of a framework for their development.
“The Netherlands has a lot of agricultural land, which cannot be sacrificed for ground-mounted PV, and plenty of water,” says Kostas Sinapis, Research Project Leader at the Solar Energy Application Center (SEAC) in Eindhoven. “Currently in the Netherlands, there is no incentive for floating solar at all, and there are no regulations for building such systems.”
“Of course, to make a policy takes some time, and they are moving in the right direction,” continues Sinapis. “Policymakers want to know if anything could leak into the supply of drinking water, or [cause] other effects on the body of water. They are starting to break all of this down; and given the high level of interest we observe in this area, we anticipate 2 GW of floating solar in the Netherlands by 2023.”