Floating Photovoltaics

Floating PV

Floating photovoltaics refers to photovoltaic power plants whose modules are mounted on floating bodies of water or on the sea. They generate solar power without occupying valuable land areas.

In Germany, flooded open-cast mining areas, gravel pits and, in some cases, reservoirs can be considered. There are sufficient suitable areas on artificial lakes. According to a recent study by Fraunhofer ISE, these have a technical potential of 44 GWp.

With our many years of experience in module and system technology and in power plant monitoring, we can analyze the specific requirements for floating photovoltaics. Our "Zenit" software is able to create yield forecasts for floating PV systems. This takes into account, for example, system design, module orientation and environmental variables such as air temperature.

We offer studies, analyses, PV and water monitoring for planning offices, EPCs and plant operators.

Our services include:

Potential Assessment

Economic-practical potential for Floating PV
© Fraunhofer ISE
Example of a water-specific determination of the economic-practical potential for Floating PV.


A potential analysis for floating photovoltaics begins with a GIS-supported suitability assessment of the area. Various criteria such as solar radiation, water types and local conditions are taken into account. Potential mounting areas are then identified, taking into account local conditions such as water depth, water quality and environmental regulations. The results of this analysis provide information on the suitability of a site for floating PV, including potential yields, technical feasibility and legal framework conditions.

Feasibility Studies, System Design

Schematic Representation of an Floating PV System
© Fraunhofer ISE
Schematic Representation of an Floating PV System.

A feasibility study for floating PV includes the design of suitable system solutions, whereby parameters such as module technology, orientation, tilt angle and row spacing are determined. This is done by comprehensively analyzing the local conditions, including wind and wave conditions and the state of the water. The study provides detailed information on the technical feasibility, expected yields, potential risks and economic viability of the project. It enables well-founded decision-making for the further planning and implementation of the floating PV project.


Installation of sensors for FPV monitoring on a system
© Fraunhofer ISE
Installation of sensors for FPV monitoring on a system.

Fraunhofer ISE is developing a comprehensive measurement concept for monitoring the aquatic ecology and PV performance of floating photovoltaics. Parameters such as irradiation and module temperature can be recorded at the PV level, while parameters such as water temperature, oxygen or chlorophyll content are measured at the water level. Based on site and system-specific requirements, sensor layouts are developed and the necessary technical components selected, e.g. weather stations and energy meters. The accuracy and temporal resolution are estimated in advance. We can define the design criteria in a workshop with the client. The results are evaluated in an annual report and provide insights into the performance of the system and potential changes in the water body.

Hydroecological Simulation


A hydroecological simulation for floating photovoltaics is carried out using a hydrodynamic simulation model that can, for example, model the thermal stratification and water quality of the water body. This model is used to estimate the hydro-ecological effect of a floating PV system. Various scenarios are run through in the simulation in order to quantify the effects of the PV system on the chemical-physical and biochemical processes. The results of the simulation provide insights into potential changes to the ecosystem and help to assess possible environmental impacts.

System Condition Assessment

Thermographic image taken by a drone to detect faults and ensure system performance
© Fraunhofer ISE
Thermographic image taken by a drone to detect faults and ensure system performance.

Floating photovoltaics is a comparatively new technology. In most cases, established procedures and standards are applied, for example with regard to electrical safety. However, the environmental conditions differ significantly between land-based and FPV systems. Increased humidity as well as wind and wave loads place high demands on the system components. To ensure fault-free operation and high system performance in the long term, we offer a system condition assessment specially tailored to FPV systems.

Determination of Wind Loads and System Optimization

Result graphic - Wind speed and pressure distribution in the outer row of a PV power plant
© Fraunhofer ISE
Result graphic - Wind speed and pressure distribution in the outer row of a PV power plant.

Wind loads for floating PV are simulated using a 3D CFD simulation that can take various orientations into account. This enables the module mounting and substructure to be optimized for maximum stability. The results can be used, for example, to determine the ideal clamping position of the modules, taking into account the minimum bending (e.g. ±5%) and the probability of cell breakage. This ensures safe and efficient installation of the PV modules on the floating platform.

Further Information on this Research Topic:

Research Project


Increased Climate Resilience of Standing Waters through Yield-Optimized Floating Photovoltaics



The impact of floating photovoltaic power plants on lake water temperature and stratification


Floating photovoltaic in Chile: Potential for clean energy generation and water protection