Potential of floating solar PV in Africa vastly underrated
Many African countries are heavily dependent on hydropower to provide baseline power, which is being affected by increasingly frequent droughts. At the same time, Africa is characterised by a very high solar potential.
The installation of floating photovoltaics (FPV) in existing hydropower reservoirs however, could provide solar electricity to help compensate for hydropower production losses during dry periods. It would also reduce evaporation losses while helping to sustainably satisfy the current and future needs of the fast-growing African population.
A new study, Assessment of floating solar photovoltaic potential in existing hydropower reservoirs in Africa, published in the scientific journal Renewable Energy, provides a comprehensive analysis of the potential of FPV installations in Africa. It draws on water surface data of the largest 146 hydropower reservoirs on the continent.
In addition to the electricity production, the evaporation savings and potential extra hydroelectricity generated by these water savings are estimated at reservoir level for four different cases and two types of floating structures. The study results indicate that with a total coverage of less than 1%, the installed power capacity of existing hydropower plants could double and electricity output could grow by 58%. This would produce an additional 46.04TWh annually. In this case, the water savings could reach 743 million cubic meters a year, increasing the annual hydroelectricity generation by 170.64GWh.
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