EU to help anchor lower price for floating solar power

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The EU’s European Maritime and Fishery Fund (EMFF) will support the Fresher project which aims to improve floating PV technology.

The two-year initiative – which is intended to improve anchoring and mooring technology, particularly for ocean-based facilities – was launched this month by a consortium of Swedish, Spanish and Portuguese entities active in floating PV. Its backers hope technological improvements will lower the cost of electricity generated by floating projects in tandem with raising the generation capacity of such facilities.

The project partners did not reveal how much money the EU would grant the scheme.

An elastic mooring system

The project leader is Seaflex AB, a Swedish provider of pipeline buoyancy products which include its “friendly” anchoring and mooring solutions. These, according to the company, can help increase cost efficiency and decrease maintenance requirements for floating PV projects.

Seaflex’s elastic mooring system is said to be an alternative to ropes and cables which can expand and contract with tides. “In order to handle significant water level variation, the mooring lines must be able to both increase and decrease in length depending on the position of the floats,” the company said.

The technology is said to be compatible with all floating solar panel floats. “Floating solar systems secured with Seaflex have survived hurricane-strength winds and we have documented references dimensioned for 35m water level variations and 90m depths,” stated the company in a document describing the technology.

An important project partner

Portuguese state-owned power utility EDP has also joined the Fresher consortium. “Floating photovoltaic, only in Portugal, has a potential of more than 2 GW,” the mooring group announced in a statement yesterday.

EDP announced a megawatt-sized floating project in June, having built a first, smaller system with Ciel&Terre in November 2016. The earlier Central Solar Fotovoltaica Flutuante do Alto Rabagão project is a 200 kW pilot installation at the Alto Rabagão Dam on the Rabagão River.

The power company’s new strategy includes investment in solar, energy storage and off-grid and hybrid wind-solar projects as well as expanding its traditional renewable assets in wind power.

“Floating PV is one of the new technology frontiers to embrace as it explores the synergies between hydro and solar,” said João Maciel, director for EDP’s center for new energy technologies. “Fresher is likely to play a pivotal role in enhancing [the] maturity and competitiveness of such promising technology.”