Floating PV with Fishing - Scientific Evaluation


IGEF publishes a report on Floating Photovoltaics

Key findings are the following: Existing studies indicate that the impact of Floating photovoltaics on the fish population in large water bodies is insignificant. Floating photovoltaic systems can be a solution for a sustainable food-energy-water nexus. Enormous potential of Floating PVs worldwide, including India. Advantages of Floating PVs include an increased power conversion efficiency and significantly reduced evaporation of water bodies. Worldwide lack of long-term environmental impacts assessments for Floating PVs, especially of shading effects, mainly due to youth of this technology.

Floating PVs gets into focus as these systems provide several advantages compared to conventional ground-based PV installations. PV arrays on water bodies provide a solution for land scarcity, avoiding potential future disputes in land use. PV modules in Floating PV arrays show an increased power conversion efficiency, due to the cooling effect of water evaporation and less dust on to accumulate on modules.

Two major concerns regarding fishing and Floating PV have been identified through worldwide literature review. One is in terms of the development of fish population itself. Scientific studies indicate that Floating PV either increase or only slightly decrease fish production with high levels of modules covering more than 30% of the water body with solar. The results of a study with milkfish show estimated reduction in fish production between 5 and 10 %, under a high 60 % cover rate of Floating PV.

However, losses in fish production are overcompensated by gains in terms of energy leading to an overall economic benefit. Other studies argue that fish population will increase because Floating PV arrays provide shelter for fish from hunting birds and to hide from fishermen. Besides, floats can act as artificial reefs and/or fish aggregation devices, able to restore damaged ecosystems and hence increasing overall amounts of aquatic life.

In this context, Swimsol, a company which provides Floating PV offshore ocean systems to luxury resorts on Maldives conducted a detailed environmental study. Results show significant positive effects of these near-shore Floating PV systems, such as new coral growth, whereby the platforms have become a habitat for fish and crustaceans. Generally, more research needs to be done to identify all effects of Floating PV systems on different water body ecosystems.

Click here to download the report.