EDP collaborates in the world's first best practice guide for floating solar projects.

International working group brought together 24 major energy companies, including EDP. The goal is to define the most efficient and sustainable practices for floating solar parks.

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EDP is the only Portuguese company in the international working group that has defined the first global guide to best practices for the creation and development of floating photo-voltaic solar projects. The group – led by DNV, a consultant specialized in energy and active in more than 100 countries – has 24 major organizations working in this energy area, among which are companies such as EDF, Total, RWE, Acciona, Equinor and Statkraft.

The energy produced from solar panels installed in floating structures, such as reservoirs or lakes, is a developing technology in several countries and with strong potential for the production of clean energy, mainly in areas where there is a shortage of land available to install. Although it is a promising technology, there are still a number of complexities associated with its installation, development and management that motivated the creation of this document of “good practices.”

Using the knowledge and experience that companies like EDP hold in this area, several recommendations were then defined that help the promoters of floating solar parks to develop their projects with maximum efficiency and minimal environmental impact. The guide, published this week, recommends best practices to follow at all stages of a project, from the location and design of a solar plant, to technical issues such as electrical safety, anchoring and mooring of floating platforms, water quality monitoring and environmental activities.

EDP is one of the world’s pioneers in the floating solar, having developed a pilot project in Europe at the Alto Rabagão reservoir in Montalegre, in a location chosen to test the production of energy in the most adverse conditions (as a deep vale with rocky ground and significant variations at the river levels). With 840 photo-voltaic panels (about 220 kW), which occupy 2,500 m2 of the water mirror, this pilot unit was built in 2016 and has successfully tested the complementarity between solar energy and water, as well as the environmental advantages of this new technology.

Given the good results of the project in the north of the country, EDP is now planning the installation of a new floating solar plant at Alqueva’s reservoir in Alentejo, with close to 12,000 panels (about 4000 kW). Once again, the objective is to ensure the production of renewable energy, combining solar with hydro-power, and reuse existing infrastructure (such as connection to the distribution network), always in line with environmental and sustainability standards.

On a global scale, this technology is gaining in size. In 2015, the capacity of floating solar energy was of only 10 MW, but it accelerated significantly in recent years – by the end of 2020, it already totaled 2 GW and, by 2025, the estimate is that solar projects could reach a total capacity of 10 GW.