Floating PV finds a virtual battery in hydropower

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The combination of PV and hydropower has been a mainstream trend for years, with an increasing number of large and mid-sized projects announced worldwide.

Now, it has been suggested the combination of reservoir-based hydropower and floating solar has an additional advantage in terms of “virtual” energy storage.

According to a study by Christian Breyer – Professor of Solar Economy at Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology – an hydropower plant at a reservoir may function as a virtual charge during daytime, by accumulating water for power production when there is no sunlight.

According to the “Combinining Floating Solar Photovoltaic Power Plants and Hydropower Reservoirs: A Virtual Battery of Great Global Potential” report, co-written with Javier Farfan, this virtual battery role may be fulfilled by hydropower plants when there is sufficient, highly controllable water.

Astounding reservoir potential

The report pinpoints Siberia, eastern Europe, the Nordic countries, parts of North and South America and central Africa, as the regions with the highest potential for virtual battery operation.

“A total of 4,400 GW of FPV [floating PV] capacity could be installed, and 6,270 TWh could be generated globally, by covering only 25% of the estimated surface area of … reservoirs, which can then be used virtually as a battery,” the report states.

The authors of the study also found that if floating PV were extended to reservoirs of all purposes, the installed capacity and generation figures rise to a possible to 5.7 TW and 8,039 TWh, respectively.

“FPV is capable of providing significantly more electricity – 6,270 TWh in total – than hydropower from reservoirs – 2,510 TWh in total – at a coverage rate of 25%, while providing balance to … FPV intermittent operation,” the authors added.