Floating Photovoltaics


Floating Photovoltaics

Floating Photovoltaics (FPV) is the term for PV power plants that consist of modules mounted on buoyant elements that float on water bodies such as pit lakes or reservoirs or on the sea. The plant is anchored to the bottom of the water, shore or adjacent structures. As a result of the module cooling by the water, FPV plants show increased yields compared to conventional ground-mounted systems. While some plants with installed capacities in the double-digit megawatt range can already be found in Asia, the plants in Germany are limited to a maximum of 750 kWp due to previous funding obstacles. The largest FPV plant in Europe is currently located in the Netherlands with an installed nominal capacity of 41.1 MWp (as of July 2021). FPV has shown very dynamic growth in recent years, with systems for more than 2.6 GWp power installed by the beginning of 2021.

Quick-Facts: Floating Photovoltaics (FPV)

  • Global installed power of app. 2.6 GWp
  • Technical potential in Germany of app. 44 GWp (artificial lakes)
  • Advantages:
    • easing of competition for land use
    • no land preparation or maintenance necessary
    • higher electricity yield due to cooling effect of water
    • less loss of water due to evaporation
    • lower water temperature due to partial shading by the plant
    • synergy effects when interconnected with hydropower plants, pumped storage power plants or offshore wind power plants
  • Challenges:
    • more complex installation and servicing
    • water resistance of the installation
    • anchoring in case of strong currents, waves or water level fluctuations
    • restriction to ecologically safe materials due to water protection requirements

Application options

In Germany, pit lakes from open-cut mining, former gravel pits and, in some cases, reservoirs are potential locations. The first German FPV plant on a converted gravel pit near Renchen in Baden has been connected to the grid since the end of May 2019 and has an installed power rating of just on 750 kW. Most of the generated electricity is consumed by the neighbouring gravel excavation plant. In addition to the application of FPV on lakes, the technology can also be used at sea (offshore or near the coast). Other possible applications represent the integration of FPV on cover foils of agricultural water reservoirs or fish farms. In Cyprus, for example, a floating solar film was installed on a water reservoir. It reduces water evaporation and pollution while producing electricity for pumping equipment. It is also possible to implement PV over canals.

Floating PV power plant with 750 kW
© Ossola GmbH, Foto: Jörg Wilhelm
Floating PV power plant with 750 kW power near Renchen in Baden, Germany.
Floating solar foil on a water reservoir in Cyprus.
© continental
Floating solar foil on a water reservoir in Cyprus.
Floating PV power plant in Japan
© Ciel & Terre International
Floating PV power plant in Japan.

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

Flyers for Download

Flyer: Integrated PV

Flyer: Floating Solar Power Plants