Floatovoltaics Enable Solar Energy Expansion

100 MW Floating PV Power Plant Project in Huancheng Town, Weishan County, Jining City, Shandong Province (Photo courtesy Sungrow Power) Posted for media use

100 MW Floating PV Power Plant Project in Huancheng Town, Weishan County, Jining City, Shandong Province (Photo courtesy Sungrow Power) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

WASHINGTON, DC, November 1, 2018 ( News) – Floating solar photovoltaic panels on the surfaces of lakes, hydropower and agricultural reservoirs, industrial ponds, and near-coastal areas is one of today’s fastest-growing renewable energy technologies.

The floating of solar arrays on water relieves the pressure on scarce, densely populated lands and can be used to repurpose mining reclamation areas. The technology opens new horizons to scale up solar power globally.

The total installed floating solar power in 2018 is foreseen to be near one gigawatt, enough energy to power about 700,000 homes.

Floating solar is especially attractive to fast-growing Asian economies. Interest is growing in the region, and large plants are being installed or planned in China, India and Southeast Asia, finds a newly published market report from the World Bank Group and the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore.

This first-of-its-kind market report estimates the global potential of floating solar to be 400 gigawatts –  a figure roughly equal to the total capacity of all solar photovoltaic (PV) installations worldwide at the end of 2017.

In India the first floating PV plant of 10 KW was installed in a lake in Kolkata in 2014. More recently a 100 KW floating solar power plant was installed in NTPC Kayamkulam in the state of Kerala, which is the largest such system in India.

The floating platform was developed in India by the joint efforts of a private company, NTPC Energy Technology Research Alliance, and the government of India’s Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology.

The NB Institute of Rural Technology headed by Gon Chaudhuri reports that around 300 GW of solar power could be generated by tapping just 10 to 15 percent of the water bodies in India. The Institute identifies the states of Bengal, Bihar, Kerala, Odisha and Assam as those with the greatest floating solar potential.

In May, the Chinese company Sungrow completed installation of a 100 MW capacity floating solar array in the Erlonggang mining subsidence area in Huancheng Town, Weishan County, Jining City, Shandong Province.

Now the Chinese company Sungrow is building a 150 MW floating PV power plant project in the mining subsidence area of Guqiao Town, Fengtai County, Huainan City, Anhui Province.

In August, South Korea completed world’s first floating solar power plant that tracks sunlight. The 1,600 solar voltaic modules installed on a floating deck go round and round, following the Sun’s movements throughout the day while the array floats on a reservoir in Gyeonggi-do Province.

Since the floating modules can collect sunlight reflected off water, developers say this type of floating solar plant can generate more power than ground-based systems.

The Water Resources Corporation in Korea found that floating PV systems generate 11 percent more energy than equivalent land-based systems.

 Artist’s impression of Kyocera’s Yamakura dam power plant in Japan. (Photo courtesy Kyocera Corp.) Posted for media use

Artist’s impression of Kyocera’s Yamakura dam power plant in Japan. (Photo courtesy Kyocera Corp.) Posted for media use

One supplier of floating PV systems has claimed that water losses could be reduced to as much as 70 percent and makes a good case for these systems. Besides preventing water losses, the modules and the floats anchoring them reduce the photo-synthesis process that promotes algae and other organic growth. This is particularly of interest to water utility companies as it reduces the water treatment and labor costs. Also as large power consumers, utilizing the water surface to generate electricity help them save on their energy cost.

The modules in floating systems operate under a much cooler environment reducing thermal losses and also heat induced degradation. Dust collection issues would be minimal, leading to enhanced power generation and reduced cleaning frequency.

The Chinese firm Trina Solar announced on October 31 that it has supplied 17MW of PV modules to the largest floating PV plant in Europe. The O’MEGA 1 PV project has been developed by Akuo Energy, France’s leading independent producer of renewable energy.

Once operational, the plant located in Piolenc (Vaucluse) will produce 100 percent renewable energy covering the consumption of more than 4,700 households. The plant is spread over a 17-hectare property and will avoid the emission of roughly 11,100 tons of CO2 per year.

In the UK, water company United Utilities started work last year on a floating solar farm on a Greater Manchester reservoir, which will be Europe’s largest once complete next year.

Some challenges persist – the lack of a long-standing track record, the possible effects on water quality, the costs and complications of anchoring and mooring the installations, and the relative complexity of maintaining the electrical components of the floating solar arrays.

Despite being land neutral, the cost of the floating systems including anchoring, installation, maintenance and transmission renders the overall cost of the floating solar systems as much higher than land-based systems at this initial stage of development.

Yet the benefits are clear. In some cases, floating solar allows for power generation to be sited much closer to areas where demand for electricity is high.

Floating solar complements existing hydropower infrastructure, the World Bank report points out.

“At some large hydropower plants, only three to four percent of the reservoir would need to be covered with floating solar panels to double the electricity generation capacity of the dam,” the report calculates.

Combining hydropower and solar power outputs can smooth the variable nature of solar power and help manage periods of low water availability by using solar capacity first and drawing on hydropower at night or during peak demand.

In agricultural reservoirs, the solar panels can reduce evaporation, improve water quality, and serve as an energy source for pumping and irrigation, the report points out.

According to the report, “While up-front costs are slightly higher than siting solar arrays on land, the costs over time of floating solar are at par with traditional solar PV, because of floating solar’s higher energy yield due to the cooling effect of water.”

Japan has several floating solar farms built as part of the country’s drive to generate more renewable energy after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown. The shutdown of nuclear plants has seen Japan increasingly reliant on fossil fuel imports. Floating solar arrays can help shoulder the energy-generating burden.

Featured Image: 150 MW Floating PV Power Plant Project in Mining Subsidence Area of Guqiao Town, Fengtai County, China (Photo courtesy Sungrow Power) Posted for media use

Climate Financing Hits Seven-year High

 Climate Displacement in Bangladesh: The Jamuna River has swollen from heavier than usual monsoon rainfall causing severe flooding on the islands. Women on Dakkin Patil Bariare are forced to wade across waterlogged land. August 2011 (Photo by Stuart Matthews) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Climate Displacement in Bangladesh: The Jamuna River has swollen from heavier than usual monsoon rainfall causing severe flooding on the islands. Women on Dakkin Patil Bariare are forced to wade across waterlogged land. August 2011 (Photo by Stuart Matthews) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

WASHINGTON, DC, August 2, 2018 ( News) – The world’s six largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) increased their climate financing to a seven-year high of $35.2 billion in 2017, up more than 20 percent from the previous year.

The MDBs’ latest joint report on climate financing said $27.9 billion, or 79 percent of the 2017 total, was devoted to climate mitigation projects that aim to reduce harmful emissions and slow down global warming.

The remaining 21 percent or $7.4 billion of financing for emerging and developing nations was invested in climate adaptation projects that help economies deal with the effects of climate change such as torrents of rain, worsening droughts and extreme weather events.

In 2016, climate financing from the multilateral development banks had totaled $27.4 billion.

Climate finance addresses the specific financial flows for climate change mitigation and adaptation activities. These activities contribute to making MDB finance flows consistent with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development, in line with the Paris Agreement.

For example, in December 2017, as part of the Global Environmental Facility’s Sustainable Cities Pilot project, the Government of Mexico, assisted by the Inter-American Development Bank as a GEF implementing agency, received a $13.7 million grant for the cities of Xalapa, La Paz and Campeche.

The project will help improve the ability of the three cities to adapt to, and mitigate the effects of climate change. The interventions will benefit more than 600,000 people.

Xalapa will get a biodigester plant to treat the organic component of its solid waste. In La Paz, photovoltaic solar energy plants will be installed to supply seven public buildings and two schools. And in Campeche the project will finance research for a cleanup of the Bay of Campeche, including sewerage and sanitation, storm drainage, recovery of the port area and mangrove conservation.

The latest MDB climate finance figures are detailed in the 2017 Joint Report on Multilateral Development Banks’ Climate Finance, combining data from the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development the European Investment Bank the Inter-American Development Bank Group and the World Bank Group. These banks account for most multilateral development finance.

In October 2017 the Islamic Development Bank joined the MDB climate finance tracking groups and their climate finance figures will be included in reports from 2018 onwards.

 Westmill Solar Park AGM is the largest community owned solar park in the world. Rated at five megawatts it covers 30 acres. June 29, 2013, Watchfield, England, UK (Photo by R.T. Peat) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Westmill Solar Park AGM is the largest community owned solar park in the world. Rated at five megawatts it covers 30 acres. June 29, 2013, Watchfield, England, UK (Photo by R.T. Peat) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Climate funds such as the Climate Investment Funds, the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund, the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund, the European Union’s funds for Climate Action and others have also played a role in boosting MDB climate finance.

In addition to the $35.2 billion of multilateral development finance, the same adaptation and mitigation projects attracted an additional $51.7 billion from other sources of financing last year.

Of the 2017 total, 81 percent was provided as investment loans. Other types of financial instruments included policy-based lending, grants, guarantees, equity and lines of credit.

Juan Pablo Bonilla, manager of the IDB’s Climate Change and Sustainability Sector explains, “The Inter-American Development Bank Group channelled nearly $800 million principally to increase resilience of water-related operations and other built infrastructure.”

“To seize opportunities afforded by the region’s vast renewable energy resources, the IDB Group made available nearly $3.5 billion in 2017 to deploy solar and wind energy, improve energy efficiency, and support policy shifts towards decarbonized energy,” said Bonilla.

The report contains a breakdown of climate finance by country. Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia and the Pacific were the three major developing regions receiving the funds.

Asian Development Bank Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono said, “ADB acknowledges the critical role of external funding and has accessed $265 million in concessional financing from the Green Climate Fund to date. It also continues to establish innovative financing facilities, such as the Asia Pacific Climate Finance Fund, which supports financial risk management products that can help unlock financing for climate investments in clean technologies and that build resilience to climate risks.”

The upward trend in MDB climate financing continues this year. The World Bank Group announced July 19 that in fiscal year 2018, 32.1 percent of its financing had climate co-benefits. This already exceeds the target set in 2015 that 28 percent of its lending volume would be climate-related by 2020.

This amounted to a record-setting $20.5 billion in climate-related finance delivered in the last fiscal year – the result of an institution-wide effort to mainstream climate considerations into all development projects.

The 28 percent target was a key goal of the World Bank Group’s Climate Change Action Plan , adopted in April 2016, and was designed to support countries to deliver on their national goals under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“Mobilizing private capital in support of climate action is a core priority for us,” said Keiko Honda, executive vice president and CEO of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. “From wind and solar projects in Africa to green buildings in fragile and conflict-affected situations, we are committed to minimizing the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable.”

The sharp increase in investment came in response to the ever more pressing challenge of climate change. Calls to galvanize climate finance were at the heart of events such as the One Planet Summit in Paris in December 2017, two years after the historic Paris Agreement was adopted.

“Climate change poses an enormous challenge to development,” states the World Bank’s Climate Change Action Plan. “By 2050, the world will have to feed 9 billion people, extend housing and services to 2 billion new urban residents, and provide universal access to affordable energy, and do so while bringing down global greenhouse gas emissions to a level that make a sustainable future possible.”

“At the same time, floods, droughts, sea-level rise, threats to water and food security and the frequency of natural disasters will intensify, threatening to push 100 million more people into poverty in the next 15 years alone,”

warns the Climate Change Action Plan.

Multilateral banks began publishing their climate investment in developing countries and emerging economies jointly in 2011.

In 2015, the MDBs and the 23 national and regional development banks that belong to the International Development Finance Club agreed on joint principles for tracking climate adaptation and mitigation finance.

The multilateral development banks are currently working on the development of more specific approaches to reporting their activities and how they are aligned with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Featured Image: The global heatwave and those to come will cost farmers many billions, if not their lives. July 30, 2018, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany (Photo by Ingo Vogelmann) Creative Commons license via Flickr