DNV publishes the world’s first recommended guideline for floating solar power plants

The guide was developed in collaboration with 24 industry participants. The guideline(DNVGL-RP-0584) provides generally accepted guidance based on a list of technical requirements to expedite the safe, sustainable and sound design, development, operation and decommissioning of floating solar photovoltaic (FPV) projects.

Floating solar power is a promising renewable energy technology in which solar modules are installed on floating structures on the surface of suitable bodies of water. The technology offers great potential for green energy generation, especially in areas where there is a shortage of available land for large photovoltaic installations.

The wider application of floating solar power could spread, especially in countries with high population density and limited open land, such as many Asian nations.

Following the first projects in 2006, installed capacity for floating solar power was just 10 MW in 2015, but has accelerated significantly since then and will reach 2 GW towards the end of 2020. It is estimated that the total global potential capacity for deploying floating solar power on artificial inland waters alone could be as high as 4 TW, with an expected pipeline of more than 10 GW by 2025.

While FPV is a promising growing industry, there are a number of complexities associated with installing floating solar arrays. The RP (Recommended Practice) provides insight into the technical complexities of design, construction and operation on and in the water, particularly with respect to electrical safety, mooring and berthing issues, operation and maintenance, and the design of FPV equipment that can withstand site-specific environmental conditions.

Ditlev Engel, CEO of Energy Systems at DNV said, “Floating solar is an untapped, fast-growing technology with enormous potential, and I hope this recommended practice will drive the adoption and scaling of this technology to accelerate the pace of the energy transition. Working with leading companies around the world gives investors and governments, as well as leaders from across the energy industry, confidence that we have the ability to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“This project, involving both our renewable energy and floating structure experts, is a perfect example of the strength and depth of our new Energy Systems division.”

The JIP, which started last summer, looked at all aspects of developing floating solar projects on inland waterways and near the coast. It focuses on five key topics: Site condition assessment, energy yield prediction, mooring systems, floating structures, permitting, and environmental impacts.

DNV project manager Michele Tagliapietra said, “We have produced this recommended practice to ensure harmonised and high quality approaches to the development of floating solar energy projects to increase the confidence of investors, regulators and other stakeholders. The guidelines of this recommended practice aim to increase quality, minimize risks and ultimately increase confidence to avoid mistakes and accidents that could slow down the potential growth of this promising market.

“It was a very collaborative effort for which we thank everyone involved. It’s encouraging to see everyone striving to increase the quality and reliability of this exciting industry.”

“As pioneers of the floating solar market, we are pleased to see the work of the JIP team take shape in the form of this Recommended Practice. We believe this is a great step towards unlocking the potential of floating solar installations,” said Olivier Philippart, director at Ciel & Terre International, one of the 24 participants in the project.

The RP focuses on methodology to keep the RP as technology neutral as possible and provide functional requirements, recommendations and guidelines. It has a holistic system-level approach that includes individual key components as well as procedures and design considerations, and focuses on FPV projects in inland and nearshore waters.