By Michalis Mastorakis
An important step to enhance the maturity of the floating photovoltaic industry in Europe is being advanced by the independent energy expert and assurance provider, DNV.
This is starting with the implementation of two Joint industry Projects (JIP’s) which aim to create standards and guidelines for anchorage and mooring design as well as testing and certification of floats.
DNV intends to formulate a “roadmap” for potential investors and operators of floating photovoltaics, developing for the first time in the world, a specific certification and verification framework in terms of design, development and operation of floating photovoltaics.
The Norwegian classification society already collaborated with 24 sector companies as part of a previous JIP effort, that led to the publication of DNV-RP-0584. DNV has also invited others to participate in the two new JIPs, Michele Tagliapietra, solar energy advisor and DNV’s Global Practice Lead for Floating Solar, has told energypress.
As Tagliapietra explained speaking to energypress, there is a significant gap and this affects the “bankability” of investors, resulting in significant obstacles to the maturation and implementation of projects in the industry and even at a time, as he characteristically stated, that the technology of floating photovoltaics is booming and has significant investment interest in major markets on the European continent.
DNV’s first new Joint Industry Project for this sector aims to share and verify optimal practices concerning floating photovoltaic anchoring and mooring design. Taking into account the sector’s experience, so far, and existing concepts, this effort, involving participants from across the entire floating photovoltaics domain, will produce a design standard tackling a range of challenges that are expected to arise during design and installation.
The second new Joint Industry Project, concerning float design, testing and qualification – it is based on DNV’s knowhow and network – will aim to establish an adequate standard for design, testing and certification of floating PVs. This step promises to introduce clearer, swifter and lower-cost procedures.
Specific technology for specific conditions
Evaluating the Group’s overall experience in the floating photovoltaic industry, the senior DNV executive stated that the “key” to the successful development of the projects is the combination of “appropriate technology in the right place”, emphasizing that the project design must take into account the geographical, weather and technical conditions of each place selected for a project.
Determining the level of “maturity” of this technology, he said that for the time being it remains immature for application on the high seas, without however being ruled out in the near future, given that this technology is experiencing rapid development. Today such projects are mainly found in lakes and water basins within the mainland.
The case for Greece
Of particular interest is the case for Greece, where DNV has a long experience in the industry. According to Mr. Tagliapietra, Greece has a comparative advantage with the sea areas near the coastline that are considered particularly favourable to host such projects. “The Greek coastal region may be an optimal choice solution for the installation of floating photovoltaics,” he said.
The European trend
While the Netherlands is at the forefront for installed capacity in Europe, countries like Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Germany are currently starting to implement floating solar specific regulations and initiatives to promote the sector.
Overall, European countries are becoming more favorable to the development of floating photovoltaics, a stance that puts this technology in good stead as a sustainable solution for energy sufficiency and supply within the framework of the European Commission’s new REPowerEU plan.
The geographical potential for floating photovoltaics installation is estimated at 4 TW by the World Bank. Following a hesitant start, the global floating PV market grew to 3 GW in installed capacity in 2021 and, according to DNV, should reach between 7 and 11 GW in installed capacity by 2025, a surge in development expected from 2023 onwards.