Image: Baywa r.e.

Ini­tial find­ings on the envi­ron­men­tal impact of float­ing PVs

Euro­pean mar­ket leader in float­ing PV, Bay­Wa r.e., announces ini­tial research results from stud­ies on the envi­ron­men­tal impact of float­ing PV con­duct­ed at its largest facil­i­ty out­side Asia in Zwolle, the Netherlands.

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.”.

Water qual­i­ty

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.