Water Conservation Potential of Self-Funded Foam-Based Flexible Surface-Mounted Floatovoltaics

Koami Soulemane Hayibo, Pierce Mayville, Ravneet Kaur Kailey, Joshua M. Pearce*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

A potential solution to the coupled water-energy-food challenges in land use is the concept of floating photovoltaics or floatovoltaics (FPV). In this study, a new approach to FPV is investigated using a flexible crystalline silicon-based photovoltaic (PV) module backed with foam, which is less expensive than conventional pontoon-based FPV. This novel form of FPV is tested experimentally for operating temperature and performance and is analyzed for water-savings using an evaporation calculation adapted from the Penman-Monteith model. The results show that the foam-backed FPV had a lower operating temperature than conventional pontoon-based FPV, and thus a 3.5% higher energy output per unit power. Therefore, foam-based FPV provides a potentially profitable means of reducing water evaporation in the world's at-risk bodies of fresh water. The case study of Lake Mead found that if 10% of the lake was covered with foam-backed FPV, there would be enough water conserved and electricity generated to service Las Vegas and Reno combined. At 50% coverage, the foam-backed FPV would provide over 127 TWh of clean solar electricity and 633.22 million m(3) of water savings, which would provide enough electricity to retire 11% of the polluting coal-fired plants in the U.S. and provide water for over five million Americans, annually.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6285
Number of pages24
JournalEnergies
Volume13
Issue number23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • water
  • floatovoltaic
  • photovoltaic
  • energy water nexus
  • dual use
  • water conservation
  • FPV
  • floating photovoltaic
  • solar energy
  • PHOTOVOLTAIC FLOATING COVER
  • SOLAR PANEL
  • PERFORMANCE
  • ELECTRICITY
  • IMPLEMENTATION
  • TEMPERATURE
  • EVAPORATION
  • GENERATION
  • RADIATION
  • RESERVOIR

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