BayWa r.e. and its Dutch subsidiary Groenleven have been working for over a year with the Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen and experts from the research office Buro Bakker / ATKB to research the environmental impact of floating photovoltaic systems. The starting signal for the investigations was given in February 2020 with the construction of the “Bomhofsplas” plant. Initial results regarding BayWa r.e.’s certified floating PV solution show no negative impact on the environment surrounding the floating PV park.
Toni Weigl, Head of Product Management Floating-PV at BayWa r.e. Solar Projects GmbH, explains: “BayWa r.e. is very concerned about preserving biodiversity and water quality. The initial results of the environmental studies show no significant negative impact on the flora and fauna of the lake. In fact, the initial results are positive and we are pleased to see our floating PV system integrating so well with the lake environment. This important collaboration with Hanze University and Buro Bakker / ATKB will provide us with valuable information for the future development of new floating PV projects.”.
According to the water quality study conducted by Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the oxygen content under the floating PV modules has changed only minimally within a year, as wind and sunlight can still easily reach the water surface under the modules. The measured deviations were mainly caused by changing weather conditions, which were continuously monitored. According to the researchers, the water quality under the floating PV system remains at the same good level as the adjacent water surface.
Biodiversity and the environment
As part of the research into the effects of floating PV modules on water, the environment and biodiversity, Buro Bakker / ATKB found that the modules lead to lower wind levels on the water surface. This results in less erosion of the banks and thus protects the vegetation there and stimulates plant growth.
The effects on the fish population in the lake will also be investigated. For this purpose, protective mesh boxes from Ecocean, so-called “bio huts”, were filled with mussels and attached under the floating PV modules to strengthen the underwater ecosystem and promote biodiversity. However, full results will require several years of research. Therefore, studies will continue for several years to examine long-term effects in detail.
Ongoing long-term studies
Current research provides a good insight into the environmental impact of floating PV. However, long-term studies are necessary in order to be able to make fully comprehensive statements for future projects. Dr. Benedikt Ortmann, Global Director of Solar Projects at BayWa r.e., adds: “The positive impact on the environment is a key aspect of our floating PV design. Our system makes it possible to generate renewable energy while improving habitat for local wildlife and plants.”
“Climate targets are becoming more ambitious by the day. Therefore, we must expand all available system applications for renewable power generation and fully tap the enormous potential of solar energy. Floating PV is a promising solution that will play an important role alongside other dual-function applications such as rooftop PV, agri-PV or carport PV.”
With more than 250,000 installed floating PV modules and eight floating solar parks, BayWa r.e. is a leader in the European floating PV market. The company is currently constructing the 29.8 MWp Uivermeertjes Park, the largest floating PV plant in Europe to date, surpassing its own record of the largest plant to date, Bomhofsplas, with 27.4 MWp.