Floating Photovoltaics (FPV)

Measuring devices at the Floating PV plant
© Fraunhofer ISE
Measuring devices monitor wind and temperature at the Floating PV plant in Renchen, Germany.

Depending on the scenario, a photovoltaic expansion of 300 to 450 GWp is needed in Germany to ensure the success of the energy transition. Due to the limited agricultural land, land-neutral solutions must be developed. Floating PV refers to photovoltaic power plants mounted on floating bodies on standing water or at sea. 

Floating photovoltaics have experienced very dynamic growth worldwide in recent years. At the beginning of 2021, the installed capacity worldwide was 2.6 GWp. In Germany, flooded open-cast mining areas, gravel pits and in some cases dam lakes come into consideration. 

There are sufficient suitable areas on artificial lakes in Germany. According to a recent study by Fraunhofer ISE, these areas have a technical potential of 44 GWp. 

With our many years of experience in module and plant technology and in power plant monitoring, we have the capability to adapt and implement the requirements for floating photovoltaics. Among other services, our specially developed »Zenit« software is capable of generating yield forecasts for floating PV plants. This takes into account, for example, system design, orientation of the modules and environmental variables such as air temperature. 

We offer accompanying studies, consulting and monitoring services for planning offices, EPCs and plant operators.


Advantages and Synergies of Floating PV

  • availability of large unused areas
  • better module efficiency due to the cooling effect of 
  • the water
  • evaporation rate is reduced and mitigates water loss in dry climates
  • lower solar irradiation reduces algae formation and protects the ecosystem from strong solar radiation 
  • In the case of coupling with hydropower (onshore) or wind power (offshore): dual use of existing infrastructure, coordinated logistics for operation and maintenance as well as damping of feed-in fluctuations

Challenges and the Need for Optimization

Many questions and challenges arise when installing modules on the water surface: 

  • what is the best way to mount the system?
  • how is the floating installation anchored? 
  • how can pollution be avoided? 
  • which materials are ecologically safe and harmless? 

Our Services for Consultants, EPCs and Plant Operators

  • conception of the power plants
  • GIS-based potential analyses
  • social and environmental impact studies
  • feasibility studies
  • analysis and optimization of PV yield, light simulations and profitability analysis
  • power plant design 
  • prototypes and implementation
  • quality assurance and monitoring
  • Digital Twin Models: development of models based on yield models and real-time monitoring data
  • Finite Element Method (FEM) for substructure, wind and wave load

Press releases and projects


Press release - July 2, 2021

Solar Systems Learn To Swim: Research and Industry Join Forces to Perform Long-Term Tests On Different System Designs

In the joint research project PV2Float, the partners are to test several floating PV systems with different structure designs under real conditions over a three-year period. 


Press release - February 3, 2020

Fraunhofer ISE Analyzes Potential of Solar Power Plants Located on Pit Lakes in Former Lignite Mines

Commissioned by the renewable energy developer BayWa r.e., the Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy Systems ISE investigated the technical potential of floating photovoltaics (FPV) on pit lakes in former lignite mines in Germany. 


Research project


Technology development for floating PV power plants and their implementation for use on artificial waters

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