A study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the US Department of Energy, suggests that if floating solar panels are deployed on the world’s more than 379,000 hydroelectric reservoirs, the resulting hybrid systems could generate between 16% and 40%. electricity demand.
In a press release, the NREL says that Installation of floating solar panels in reservoirs of hydropower plants could produce up to 7.6 terawatts of potential energy per year only from solar photovoltaic systems. This equates to 10,600 terawatt hours of electricity per year. For comparison, global final electricity consumption was just over 22,300 terawatt-hours in 2018, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the International Energy Agency.
One of the factors that make the combination of floating solar power and hydropower attractive is that the solar side of a hybrid facility can take advantage of the existing transportation infrastructure at a hydropower site.
Another advantage is the installation of solar panels in an area that has very few uses. There are no trees to cut and no fields to reuse. It should also simplify the authorization process compared to a conventional ground mounted solar system which can have bureaucratic issues.
The other benefits are to allow hydropower operators to conserve water during dry seasons while maintaining the flow of electricity generation that is fed into the grid.
In many places, the floating panels could also reduce evaporation in the tanks.
If floating solar plus hydropower can provide between 16% and 40% of the world’s electricity, their union will clearly be an important element in the decarbonization of the electricity grid.
More information: www.nrel.gov