German renewable energy developer Baywa r.e. has begun constructing what will be the largest floating solar farm outside of China.
The 27-megawatt Bomhofsplas solar farm is set to include 73,000 solar panels on a sandpit lake in Zwolle in the Netherlands, the company said in a statement. For places like Northern Europe where land is in tight supply, floating technology could open up new areas for renewable energy development.
Baywa has installed close to a third of the solar farm in two weeks, its fastest deployment time yet for such a project. The company said floating installations are easier to install than similar projects on land and could produce more power thanks to a cooling effect from the water.
“Our ability to deliver floating solar farms in such a short space of time is an exciting new opportunity for Europe and its bid to be carbon free by 2050,” said Benedikt Ortmann, global director of polar Projects at Baywa.
China has led the way with floating solar farms so far, with the biggest projects in the world. But other countries could soon catch up. The project in Zwolle is Baywa’s fourth in less than two years and Thailand has ambitions to build utility-scale projects in the coming years.
The main drawback is cost. Floating solar projects cost about $100,000 more per megawatt, according to BloombergNEF. It’s also not yet clear if solar panels degrade faster in high humidity conditions than they would on land.
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.