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Photovoltaic panels on the waves

Energa Wytwarzanie has started a year-long pilot project of photovoltaic panel installation on the water - the first panels were installed on the reservoir at the hydroelectric plant in Łapina. If the results of the pilot programme prove to be satisfactory, the company management will consider the possibility of a broader application of such solutions in the future.

Energa Wytwarzanie investigates the potential of a solar farm with PV panels placed on the water. The company has begun piloting this solution on the reservoir at the hydroelectric power plant in Łapina. This is the first such solution in Poland. Floating photovoltaic power plants are located in many places around the world. Most installations of this type are built in the Far East - in China, South Korea and Japan. According to the analysis of the use of this technology in the world, moving the PV panels to water significantly increases the amount of electricity produced. Due to the fact that atmospheric conditions in Poland differ significantly from countries in which floating PVs are popular, it seems to be reasonable to check whether such a system will improve the efficiency of photovoltaic installations in our climate.

Panels placed on a structure floating on a body of water solve several problems of photovoltaics that affect the efficiency of the entire installation. It is mainly about the temperature rise of PV modules and dirt depositing on their surface. The period from May to September, the most effective in terms of solar radiation in Poland, are also the months with the highest average air temperature and the largest pollen levels. Placing the installation on the water should allow for better cooling of the PV modules, which should translate into an increase in their efficiency. In addition, there is much less dust and pollen over the water reservoirs, so the panels will stay cleaner. Thanks to this, they should produce more electricity compared to the panels installed on the ground.

“The Energa Group has an innovation strategy for 2017-2020 with a 2025+ perspective. Our companies as well as research and development units are excellent facilities for developing innovative solutions and improving the technologies - says Alicja Barbara Klimiuk, acting President of the Management Board of Energa SA. “The energy production technology we are currently testing is another proof that we are still working on optimising renewable energy production facilities. If the results of the pilot are satisfactory, then we will implement this type of solution on a larger scale. Investments in the area of innovation are one of the key activities of our Business Lines. Energa’s expenditures on research and development will systematically grow up to 2.5% of EBITDA in 2025. Innovative solutions build the company's competitive advantage and increase its shareholder value. Energa allocates PLN 40 million annually on average for R&D.”

The company is testing a multi-kW installation. Pilot studies are to confirm the usefulness of floating solar farms in Polish climatic conditions. Tests will continue in changing weather conditions for twelve months.
 
“We want to test the operation of the installation during all seasons - especially in winter when icing occurs” – says Katarzyna Serdeczna, project manager at Energa Wytwarzanie SA. “The experience of other countries indicates an over 10 percent energy efficiency increase resulting from the cooling effect of water and reduction of dirt. What's more, the increased efficiency of the panels in part comes also from the reflection of sunlight from the water surface. In addition, floating solar farms can also be equipped with solar tracking systems positioning the panels the optimal position in relation to the Sun. This can increase the amount of electricity generated by up to 20%.