Floating solar power systems refer to the arrangement of photovoltaic panels on the surface of water bodies. It is a new method of utilizing water surface available on dams, reservoirs, and other water bodies for the generation of solar energy.
Typically, a 1 MW plant covers about 7-10 hectares of the water body, saves 15 Ml of water and produces 1500 MWh of electricity. Based on type, the floating solar panels market is classified into stationary and solar-tracking floating solar panels. Stationary floating solar PV systems are installed on the water surface. An embedded solar tracker traces the movement of the sun and positions the panel in order to escalate the time of exposure of panels to the sunlight and improve the overall efficiency of the system. Furthermore, the floating solar panels enables low management and maintenance costs.
Floating panels eliminate the requirement of expensive land areas, this significantly lowers the price of solar power generation and also frees the land for other purposes. Since water bodies are usually owned by governments, it is easier to receive permits for a water body rather than land based installation. It also benefits the water where it is installed, providing shade to reduce evaporation and algae bloom. While power production on individual sites might not be as high as ground-mounts, floating solar arrays are viable options for cities with little land or roof space.
The market is expected to witness strong growth owing to its flexibility and performance. Floating solar panel market is expected to record a CAGR of 44% over the forecast period i.e. 2019-2027 and is estimated to reach significant value of USD 6 million by the end of 2027.
The market is segmented by type into stationary and solar-tracking floating solar panels, out of which, the tracking floating solar panels segment is anticipated to have leading shares on account of its long durability and high efficiency. Increasing investment by the component manufacturers to reduce the overall cost structure of floating power architecture is anticipated to propel the industry size during the forecast period.
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Increasing demand for renewable alternatives for energy harvesting is majorly driving the growth of the market. The low maintenance and cost-effectiveness of the floating panels are leading to the increased adoption of these systems over conventional solar installations. Factors such as subsidies and tax benefits offered by the governments, directed with the aim of installation of the solar panels along with rental benefits offered to the owners of the reservoir are expected to spur the growth of the solar photovoltaic (PV) panels market. The buoyant photovoltaic panel carries with it several benefits such as it helps to save water by controlling water evaporation at places with dry climate. Further, the cooling effect of the water helps to maintain the temperature of the silicon panels and thus enhances the efficiency levels. Moreover, the floating solar photovoltaic panels can also be planted in the hydroelectric plants.
Development of large scale utility projects coupled with numerous financial incentives and tax benefits offered by the regulators is expected to impact the market growth.
Despite the implementation of large-scale projects to permit floating solar technology to be considered commercially viable, there are challenges pertaining to its deployment such as unstable track record, uncertainty in surrounding costs and predicting environmental impact, and the technical complexities related to designing, building, and operating on and in water (especially electrical safety, anchoring and mooring issues along with operation and maintenance). Additionally, high cost of installation and lack of resistance to corrosion in sea water also restricts the use of floating panels. These complexities are likely to restrain the expansion of the market.
Our-in depth analysis of the floating solar panel market includes the following segments:
On the basis of regional analysis, the floating solar panel market is segmented into five major regions including North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Middle East & Africa region.
Asia Pacific is expected to have the largest market for floating solar panels, mainly driven by China, Japan, and India. The emergence of smart cities is one of the key market trends that is estimated to gain traction over the forecast period. Additionally, limited availability of land and rapid depletion of non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels are inducing high demand for floating solar panels in the region.
The market size in U.S. is anticipated to be around USD 300 million during the forecast period on account of favorable government initiatives to increase dependency on clean energy sources. In 2017, the U.S. had only seven floating arrays, however, the country is now starting to gain momentum stateside. High penetration of advanced technology for harvesting energy from renewable resources in order to meet the increasing energy demand is fueling the growth of the market in the North America region.
UK floating solar panels market is set to witness strong growth in terms of volume. Introduction of regulatory norms to limit the carbon footprint will further boost the market growth. In 2016, Europe completed the development of its largest floatovoltaics power plant with cumulative capacity of over 6 MW. Government emphasis on shifting towards renewable energy sources for energy generation and rising environmental awareness are propelling the growth of the market in the Europe region.
The floating solar panel market is further classified on the basis of region as follows:
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