The idea is simple. Float solar panels on the reservoirs of hydroelectric dams. The new solar can piggy back on the existing grid connections. They complement each other by being strong when the other is weak: solar for the dry season, hydro for the wet. The hydro can provide pumped storage for the excess solar. Finally, the reservoir is readily available space. A team at the U.S.’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory have calculated the theoretical upper limit of generation should all technically feasible hydro reservoirs worldwide (379,068 freshwater) be utilised. It’s over 10,600 TWh/year for the added floating solar (i.e. not including the existing hydropower). For comparison, global final electricity consumption was 22,300 TWh in 2018. The researchers emphasise that “technically feasible” doesn’t mean what’s economically feasible or suits the market. But those numbers could grab the attention of policymakers, leading to more detailed analysis. Meanwhile, it is very early days for hybrid floating solar/hydro and only small systems have been installed anywhere in the world so far.
Energy Post 7th Oct 2020 read more »