Floating solar panels that track the sun

SolarisFloat Protevs Floating Solar Panels
SolarisFloat's innovative PROTEVS+ installation floats gracefully on the waters of Oostvoorne Meer in the Netherlands, harnessing the sun with its pioneering tracking technology. Images © SolarisFloat

Solar energy is undergoing another revolutionary transition. The vast water bodies on our planet are now emerging as prime real estate for solar panels, thanks to innovative technology and strategic foresight. A standout example of this cutting-edge technology is the floating solar installation developed by Portuguese company SolarisFloat.

PROTEVS+: The floating wonder

Anchored in Oostvoorne Meer, a lake in the southwest Netherlands, PROTEVS+ is a floating solar island, but with a twist. Unlike most floating solar systems, PROTEVS+ combines sun-tracking technology with the floating concept. This means the solar panels move in response to the sun’s movement, ensuring maximum solar energy absorption.

The specifications are impressive:

  • PROTEVS+ features 180 modules with dual-axis tracking.
  • Each module can adjust its elevation from 0° to 45°.
  • It boasts a total installed capacity of 73 kWp with 370 wp modules.
  • This innovative installation achieves an energy production boost of up to 40%.
  • Additionally, water-cooled air further enhances solar panel efficiency by ensuring lower panel temperatures, resulting in up to 15% increased production.

The floating island spans a diameter of 38 meters, occupying an area of 1,444 square meters.

PROTEVS Single360: Optimizing space and power

SolarisFloat offers a second solution aptly named PROTEVS Single360. It operates on a single axis and has been designed to optimize the balance between occupied area and power output.

Key features of PROTEVS Single360 include:

  • It houses 360 PV modules with single-axis tracking.
  • An impressive installed capacity of 147 kWp for 410 W panels.
  • The PV modules are set at a fixed slope of 10°.
  • Energy production can be increased by up to 30%, with water cooling again playing a pivotal role in enhancing production by up to 15%.
  • To give a sense of the scale, seven of these islands equal 1MW, requiring 15,000 m2 for installation. In ideal locations under normal conditions, they can generate up to 2 GW/year.
SolarisFloat Floating Solar Panels Island
SolarisFloat’s PROTEVS+ features dual-axis sun-tracking, while the PROTEVS Single360 utilizes a single-axis mechanism, optimizing energy absorption as they pivot with the sun’s movement.

Benefits and implications

Antonio Duarte, SolarisFloat’s lead technical engineer, rightly observes that renewable energy production, especially solar, will find more adoption on water than on land, primarily because land is a dwindling asset. Floating solar offers an innovative solution without compromising precious land resources.

Additionally, Alona Armstrong, an expert from Lancaster University, points out that if executed correctly, floating solar systems can offer not only low-carbon energy but also improve water body conditions by cooling the water and reducing phytoplankton biomass. This multi-pronged advantage is indeed a boon for the environment and energy sectors alike.

According to data reported by the BBC, solar PV capacity has skyrocketed from 72GW in 2011 to 843GW in 2021, now accounting for 3.6% of global electricity generation. With floating solar’s advent, this trajectory is only expected to rise steeply.

SolarisFloat Floating Solar Panels Sun Tracking
According to SolarisFloat, seven PROTEVS Single360 islands have the potential to produce up to 2GW per year under optimal conditions.

Uniqueness of SolarisFloat’s offering

SolarisFloat’s approach to floating solar stands out in its modularity and scalability. The PROTEVS systems, whether PROTEVS+ or PROTEVS Single360, are modular, detachable, and scalable. This design allows for ease of installation and flexibility in configuration. Moreover, these floating islands can be combined to form expansive floating solar farms, marking a significant leap in energy production potential.

The materials used in the PROTEVS system deserve special mention. To combat premature aging and the harsh effects of weather, specially developed thermoplastics are employed, boasting high impact and UV resistance, ensuring a prolonged product lifecycle.

Another highlight from SolarisFloat’s perspective is how such installations can rapidly address power generation needs in countries witnessing a surge in electricity consumption. For instance, utilizing just 8% of Brazil’s 165 largest dams could satiate 80% of the nation’s electricity demands.

SolarisFloat Floating Solar Panels Modular
SolarisFloat’s design seamlessly adjusts to water level variations, and ensures straightforward assembly and deployment with its modular and user-friendly design.

Conclusion

SolarisFloat’s PROTEVS systems represent a future-forward approach to solar energy harnessing. Merging the vast potential of water bodies with cutting-edge sun-tracking technology, they are poised to make a mark in the global renewable energy landscape.

Source: SolarisFloat