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  • Writer's pictureMesut Bozok

Floating PV Feasibility Studies

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

The first stage to be considered before the design and production stages in an engineering study is the feasibility stage. Feasibility means "applicability". In short, it is the assessment of whether a project can be applied within the framework of certain rules. In this article, the issues to be considered in the feasibility study of a floating solar project are discussed.

When examining the feasibility of a floating solar energy system, the procedures can be separated under four main headings:

· Analysis of Gathered Data

· Sizing of The Needed Installation Capacity and Estimation of Energy Production

· Settlement Plan

· Evaluation of Financial Results

These four main topics need to be examine in details. Before doing this review, a floating pv project area is determined as a sample in this article. As an example, a floating PV system will be installed on a hydroelectric power plant and approaches are made accordingly.

Analysis of Gathered Data

The first step of the feasibility study process must be on the processing of correct data and the correct interpretation of the collected data. It is impossible for us to make healthy approaches without reaching sufficient information about the area where we will carry out our project, and therefore obtain correct results. We need to request related data such as the maximum and minimum water elevation, coordinates, bathymetric map, water bed soil composition and meteorological history of the region from the hydroelectric power plant management, which wants us to build a floating PV system belonging to the hydroelectric power plant. If we cannot access these data readily, we need to approach them rationally ourselves. Examining these data about the region will guide us both in our design phase and in other phases.

Sizing of The Needed Installation Capacity and Estimation of Energy Production

After examining the necessary data, making an energy production forecast will illuminate our way. The appropriate solar panel and inverter are selected according to the suitability of the determined region, the demands and the targeted energy power. While making these choices, it should not be forgotten that panels and inverters will work together and attention should be paid to their compatibility with each other. When designing and determining the PV module-inverter configuration, it is necessary to pay attention to the target or desired installed power. If there is a target installed power, it will be easier to determine the number of panels and inverters. Although the required YGES power to be decided has been determined by the owner, the HES-YGES production must be analyzed for the correct engineering. However, if maximum efficiency is aimed and we can work flexible about this, we need to do extra work taking into account the optimal hybrid generation profile of the hydroelectric power plant and the floating PV and maximum suitable area. In this case we start by designing the PV module-inverter configuration, the next step is to determine the maximum area that can be installed without shading, so a layout drawing can be made to determine the maximum installation area and accordingly the maximum installable capacity. It should not be forgotten that shading will be of great importance when determining the final power in the later stages. By simulating the draft layout in softwares such as PVsyst that provides simulation reports for solar PV systems, we can forecast the energy yield fort his site and therefore determined the needed installed power. While the HEPP-FPV production analysis is done, the installed power of the FPV will be determined in the most accurate way by calculating the losses due to the shadow effect.

Settlement Plan

Now that we have determined the targeted amount of energy production and installed power, we can continue to the layout plans of the panels. Let's continue as a floating pv system to be installed on the hydroelectric power plant, which we set as an example at the beginning of our article. Depending on the area to be installed, it should be decided whether the entire system will be built on a single island or on more than one island. It may make sense to install on a single island in systems with a small total power target. Of course, when making this assessment, the bathymetric map of the area where the installation is made, its geopolitical location and shadowing situations are very significant. When choosing the area to be installed, materials that have been submerged in the past and that may rise above the water should be taken into consideration. It is necessary to determine the highest regions in the environment and pay attention to the shading effect of those regions on the area to be installed. While the shading effect will influence the efficiency while making the layout plan, other effects may directly cause structural defects. If high amounts are aimed as total power, it would be most logical to reach the total power by establishing islets. If high amounts are targeted as total power, the dimensions of the islands should be determined by both technical analysis and planning the installation and operation stages.

Evaluation of Financial Results

After all the mentioned milestones are done, we can evaluate the financial results as the last stage of feasibility. With the data we collect and obtain, we will obtain a Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) value. LCOE is a method that used to calculate the unit cost of power generation plants. The unit price of energy is calculated by taking into calculation the initial investment cost, operating and maintenance costs, and fuel costs. Thus, the minimum price is determined for the sale of energy without loss. Considering the average lifetime of a floating pv system as 25 years, the estimated return period is calculated in terms of financial terms. Based on these calculated LCOE and estimated turnaround times, a comment is made on the feasibility of this system.

As a result, firstly the collected data are analyzed when conducting a floating ges feasibility study. Then, estimates are made regarding the total energy production and installed power and studies are carried out on the layout plan. After all these processes, we have an idea about the suitability of the project being worked on, depending on the LCOE obtained and the estimated turnaround time.


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