Floating solar – an opportunity for all in the value chain, Deloitte finds
Solar and hydropower producers and operators, photovoltaic system developers, enterprises, residential consumers, clean energy companies, and technology solution providers – all have an opportunity to tap into floating photovoltaics’ rising economic value, according to a report by Deloitte.
Global consulting agency Deloitte predicts that the aggregate installed capacity of floating photovoltaics (FPVs) will reach 5.2GWp globally by the end of 2022, representing $4–5 billion in spending.
In its report, TMT Predictions 2022, Deloitte said that new FPV installations in 2021 and 2022 alone are anticipated to add a total capacity of 2.9GWp – more than in the 13-year period from 2008 to 2020 combined.
Also known as ‘floatovoltaics’, cumulative global FPV capacity could reach 13GWp by 2025, the paper states.
In Asia/Pacific, several governments have set aggressive renewable energy (RE) targets, and solar power typically plays into these countries’ plans to meet those targets.
In fact, Asia/Pacific accounted for more than 90% of global installed FPV capacity in 2020, and it is currently leading the charge in FPV adoption, with the majority of new FPV capacity additions in the next 3–5 years expected to be in that region, the report has found.
Commercial viability of floating solar projects
FPVs offer RE project developers operational and environmental benefits that, in combination, make them commercially viable, according to Deloitte, which added that all energy ecosystem players have an opportunity to tap into FPVs’ emerging value based on each player’s role in the value chain.
Technology companies could help organizations plan, develop, and deploy the foundational infrastructure for FPVs, maintaining the infrastructure once it is deployed, and measuring and monitoring its performance.
Semiconductor companies could design and develop core manufacturing equipment and chipsets for solar panels.
Software providers might help businesses and governments use AI-based dashboards that allow them to design, plan, review, and dynamically change their energy efficiency targets and goals for RE sources, including FPVs. They could also develop products that monitor weather and provide situational awareness when managing FPV panels, according to the report.
Analytics providers could partner with RE end users to offer them insights on where and how panels can be deployed, and they could help FPV operators assess grid operations and discover system issues early on.
Apart from these potential revenue opportunities, FPVs could be a part of the overall mix of clean energy investments that companies can contract for in the form of PPAs.
One emerging use case is for data center and cloud service providers to tap into FPVs to supply energy for their operations. Some countries in southeast Asia are already experimenting with submersible data centers that use the surrounding water as a cooling agent. FPVs could be installed on top of or adjacent to these data centers as a backup or primary source of power.
With the technology advancing and commercial interest and adoption increasing, FPV is poised to gain a firm foothold in the RE space, Deloitte predicts.
“The day may fast be approaching when floating solar panels will play a prominent role alongside other RE sources in powering a cleaner world”, it is stated in the report.