The Seychelles Energy Commission on behalf of the Government of Seychelles has been developing and de-risking a marine floating solar PV (FPV) power plant. Though FPV has been deployed at scale for years, these installations are located in freshwater environments such as lakes or reservoirs. With support from the Clinton Foundation, the African Legal Support Forum, as well as legal and technical advisers from Trinity International LLP and Multiconsult Norge AS, the project will be Africa’s first utility-scale FPV plant in a marine environment and aims to support the country’s transition to renewable energy. The project site is located in a saltwater lagoon on the main island of Mahe, and therefore must be designed to cope with salinity, tidal fluctuations, and an ocean environment. The floating solar power plant is estimated to have a capacity between 3.5 – 4 MW and to provide cleaner, more sustainable energy at a lower cost.
Many island territories around the world still rely heavily on fossil fuels as their primary source of energy, despite high potential for renewable energy generation. One of the obstacles is land space. Many islands have competing uses for land – from residential development to agriculture to tourism to conservation – but massive ocean territories. The Seychelles – like many islands – has excellent solar PV potential but also has limited land availability for ground-mounted solar. To be able to capitalize on this potential for renewable solar energy and reduce dependence on expensive, imported fossil fuels, makes the case for a solution that considers land constraints.
Marine Floating Solar PV Plant (FPV) solves the double challenge of land constraints and clean energy generation. Floating solar PV panels are suspended in marine ecosystems with careful consideration of environmental impact. By utilizing marine FPV, islands and other land-constrained economies can maximize their solar PV potential and rely on clean, renewable energy sources rather than imported fossil fuels.
Marine floating solar, also known as floating photovoltaic (FPV) works as any other solar panel system works, but floats on top of a body of water. In the Seychelles case, these panels will float atop a body of water in a saltwater lagoon, where waters are relatively calm and sheltered. Solar panels are affixed to a buoyant structure that keeps them afloat. One issue solar panels have in hot climates is that they can actually become overheated reducing their capacity to generate power efficiently. The waters that host FPV systems help cool down the solar equipment, producing electricity at higher efficiencies. Special considerations, such a salinity, are considered when designing the materials to ensure corrosion is avoided and/or controlled.
The project is currently wrapping up the procurement phase, with the project award expected to be issued to the IPP in late 2019. Construction is expected to start in mid-2020, with operation later that year. Because the power plant is not yet operating, many of the impacts cannot yet be quantified. Nevertheless, the following results are expected:
Expected benefits include:
This information was based on an interview conducted with Fiona Wilson of the Clinton Foundation and Tony Imaduwa, CEO of the Seychelles Energy Commission.