Global floating solar energy market outlook, trend and opportunity analysis

Written By: Katherine Demetre
April 17, 2018

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The global floating solar energy market is projected to grow at a high rate during 2018-2024. The conventional solar energy generation requires large land area for the development and installation of solar power plants. The floating solar energy system offers a viable alternative by preventing expensive land acquisitions, which is a major driver for the growth in floating solar energy market. Increase investment in research and development of floating solar technologies by major companies augments the growth of the market. Moreover, increasing government initiatives to promote floating solar energy systems, coupled with technological advancements in the development of floating solar power plants, is also expected to propel the market growth. However, high cost of installation and maintenance associated with the floating solar energy system are the key challenges faced by the industry.

The floating solar energy system consists of panels that are installed in water bodies, such as irrigation ponds, reservoirs, lakes, canals, and ocean. The floating solar energy system comprises of FRP floating system, module mounting structure, PV/CSP modules, inverters (DC to AC), mooring system to adjust fluctuations in water level, and other cables and equipment. Solar panels installed on water bodies are naturally cooled, resulting in improved efficiency and reduced stress on the system. The floating energy systems also reduce the rate of evaporation of fresh water bodies, resulting in the conservation of water. Solar systems installed on reservoirs, irrigation canals, and lakes result in reduction in formation of algae, thus reducing water contamination. An opportunity lies in multi-junction solar cells, as they have increased efficiency when compared to a normal solar cell.

The global floating energy market is segmented into product type, location, technology, application, capacity and region. Based on the product type, the floating solar energy market is divided into stationary floating solar energy and solar-tracking floating solar energy. The stationary floating solar energy system holds the major share of the market in 2017, which can be attributed to its lower installation and maintenance cost. On the basis of location, the floating solar energy market is categorized into on-shore floating solar energy system and off-shore floating solar energy system. The on-shore floating solar energy systems are located on the shore of ponds, lakes, reservoirs, dams, and rivers while the off-shore solar energy systems are located on sea water. Based on technology, the floating solar market is segmented into photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP). Currently, photovoltaic application of floating solar is more prominent, as PV installation is less complex when compared to CSP. On the basis of capacity, floating solar market can be segmented into small-scale (<100kW), medium-scale (100kW-10mW), and large-scale (>10mW). Small-scale floating power plants located on ponds, reservoirs, canals have found application due to protection of water from contamination and eliminating the use of land completely. Moreover, large-scale solar floating power plants are operational across the globe for the purpose of generating electricity for distribution purposes.

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Geographically, the floating solar energy market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Rest of the World (RoW). The Asia-Pacific region held the largest share of the floating solar energy market and is expected to grow at a high rate during the forecast period. China has the largest installed floating solar power plant located in the Anhui province. Government initiatives to promote floating solar energy systems and high energy demand are the major factors driving growth in the region. The European floating solar energy market is expected to grow at a rapid rate during 2018-2024. The growth in the region is mainly attributed to the technological advancements in the development of floating solar power plants.

The key players of the floating solar energy market include Ciel & Terre International, Novaton AG, Infratech Industries, Inc ., DNV GL AS, SPI Solar, Pristine Sun, Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited, Trina Solar Limited, Sharp Corporation, KYOCERA Corporation.

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