How cool is floating PV? A state-of-the-art review of floating PV's potential gain and computational fluid dynamics modeling to find its root cause
imec, Kapeldreef 75, Leuven, Belgium
2 EnergyVille, ThorPark 8310, Genk, Belgium
3 University of Hasselt, Martelarenlaan 42, Hasselt, Belgium
4 University of Leuven, Dept. of Electrical Engineering (ESAT), Leuven, Belgium
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Received in final form: 1 March 2023
Accepted: 5 June 2023
Published online: 4 August 2023
The noticeable rise in electricity demand, environmental concerns, and the intense land burden has led to installing PV systems on water bodies to create floating photovoltaic (FPV). Of all market niches, FPV is the one developing the fastest. Along with some of its well-documented merits comes a claim that FPV modules operate at a lower temperature than their ground-mounted counterparts (GPVs). This claim is essential due to the performance loss of PV modules at high operating temperatures. Some literature claims that FPVs are so well-cooled that they maintain around 10% higher efficiencies. However, this cooling is poorly quantified, and the root cause remains unclear in the industry. In this paper, an extensive review of all the latest published literature and white paper advertisements was analyzed. The gains in energy yield coming from different root causes range from 0.11% to 31.29%! This proves the point of lack of clarity of potential gain of FPV. The paper then analyses four possible explanations for this cooling effect and its root causes. The FPV performance parameters are isolated and systematically investigated through physics-based finite element modeling. The impacts of wind velocity, wind direction, water temperature, relative humidity, air temperature, proximity to water, tilt angle, and others are evaluated and explained. The outcomes dictate that FPV is cooled largely through wind convection. But the increase in efficiency is below the anticipated values, ranging from 0.5% to 3%.
Key words: Floating PV / PV thermal performance / CFD / finite element modeling / convection
© G. Chowdhury et al., published by EDP Sciences, 2023
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.