The concept of floating solar was born in 2010 based on an observation from our chairman, Bernard Prouvost: there are available water spaces and a need of energy. Our floating solar system Hydrelio(R) was born in 2011 as of the first floating solar technologies ever.
In 2013, the 1st MW-scale project worldwide was inaugurated with Ciel & Terre’s pioneering technology. Since then we have developed enhanced products and great field experience. As of January 2022, more than 245 ‘floatovoltaic’ projects have been designed by ou teams and installed with our Hydrelio(R) technology in the world, equivalent to more than 640 MWp. In this sense we have contributed to the increase of the global cumulative capacity installed by the entire industry, which has been multiplied by 700 since 2013. In September 2020 this capacity was estimated to 2.1 GWp and is expected to reach 4.8 GWp by 2026.
This great evolution over the years can be explained by the advantages provided by the installation of FPV projects and our position as pioneering and innovative company enables us to speak for those benefits.
Floating solar projects are a great solution when you want to preserve land
Land serves many purposes, one of which is to house people. With a growing population at a rate of around 1% each year since 2005 and until 2025 accordingly with UN estimations, the need of housing is still a reality, though variable depending on the area you live in. In this sense, floating solar projects are relevant solutions to help produce renewable energy to communities while leaving the land available for housing development.
Additional human oriented purposes are agriculture – farming and cultivation. It is necessary to answer the need of feeding our 7.75 billion world population and keep in mind the challenge of growing population likely to reach more than 9.5 billion in 2050. In cooperation with rooftop solar and a worldwide renewed conception of cultivation, floating solar is a good means to preserve these landing spaces.
Land also needs to be preserved to protect biodiversity. Preserved natural areas need that soils are conserved in specific conditions or are the habitat of species requiring having no land modification of the landscape. Installing floating solar systems to produce renewable energy on artificial water bodies is an answer to this concern too by preserving natural areas from human activities.
Floating PV projects are a great way to create new or complementary opportunities to produce green energy
Floating solar projects, like other types of solar facilities, can produce energy with two functions:
- Full or partial self-consumption.
The electricity produced inhouse by a floating PV plant can help energy-intensive industries support their energy needs (e.g. Raw Water Pond floating solar plant, India – installed on the water storage reservoir of a thermic power plant). Floating solar can also help in the eco-friendly management of the cultivation assets (e.g. Altman Plants floating PV project, USA).
In addition, the green energy produced by a floating solar plant during its first year already offsets the carbon footprint generated by the manufacturing and transportation of raw materials and components. Associated with proper strategic decisions as we have made in Ciel & Terre (local sourcing and manufacturing), floating solar is a durable solution to minimize the related CO2 emissions as showed a one-year study we directed on a floating PV plant in Central Europe.
On the one hand, the Hydrelio® FPV projects are compatible with existing activities, like aquaculture, fishing and mining (e.g Maiwald floating PV project, Germany – with a world-premiere parabolic mooring line to fit that purpose).
On the other hand, floating solar installations can rehabilitate disused areas to produce renewable energy (e.g. CECEP floating PV project, China – installed on a former coal mining area).
Whatever its purpose may be. Discover more in our next article published next month (February 2022).
For all those reasons, floating solar is considered “the third pillar of the solar industry” per several specialized media, completing the benefits provided by roof and ground mounted systems. It continues to thrive in Asia and boom in Europe and in North America.
 Source: Solarplaza report 50 Top operational plants 2021
 Source: “Where Suns Meets Water”, 2019 report by the World Bank group, ESMAP and SERIS