A floating photovoltaic plant has been inaugurated in La Palma, Canary Islands, as part of a prominent solar energy project. This system, developed by the Norwegian firm Ocean Sun , stands out for its capacity of 270 kW and its innovative design, inspired by the techniques used by the Norwegian fish farming industry for flotation and mooring.
The port of Tazacorte is home to this advanced system, which extends 50 m in diameter. Ocean Sun’s technology incorporates a floating membrane just 1 mm thick and customized monocrystalline modules from the Chinese company GCL System Integration. This system operates independently of the electrical grid, supplying energy to local industry through an underwater cable.
This project is integrated into “Bringing Ocean Sun Systems to Market” (BOOST), a three-year initiative partly funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. Its purpose is to validate the viability of floating photovoltaics in saline waters. The Canary Islands Technological Institute and the Canary Islands Ocean Platform, in collaboration with international partners, participate in this joint effort. The final implementation in the port of Tazacorte was possible thanks to the collaboration of ACUIPALMA and the support of entities such as Puertos Canarios and the Cabildo of La Palma.
About the capacity of floating PV plant
The facility can produce approximately 440,000 kWh annually, enough to power 100 homes, including electric vehicle charging. This capacity makes it the largest floating solar system in Europe, underlining its relevance to the advancement of sustainable energy.
This prototype not only represents a technological achievement, but also a significant advance in the research and development (R&D) of renewable energy solutions. The plant has demonstrated its ability to withstand adverse marine conditions, paving the way for more extensive and accessible production of renewable energy.
The project received site-specific design validation from DNV, in line with Ocean Sun design criteria, confirming the suitability of the design for implementation.
This latest installation in the extreme south of Europe functions as a powerful demonstrator of the exploitation of inexhaustible solar resources at sea. The successful performance of the special membrane solution in these waters will pave the way for an abundant supply of affordable renewable energy.
Although floating solar installations at sea are in a nascent phase, the BOOST project addresses these challenges through innovations such as its floating and anchoring system. The integration of these technologies guarantees stability and efficiency, even in challenging maritime conditions. This project not only represents a significant achievement in the field of solar energy, but also an encouraging example of international collaboration and dedication to sustainable development.
How does a photovoltaic plant work?
Photovoltaic solar energy uses solar radiation to generate electricity through the photoelectric effect. This phenomenon implies that certain materials can absorb photons (light particles) and release electrons, giving rise to an electric current.
To carry out this process, a semiconductor device known as a photovoltaic cell is used, which can be manufactured with monocrystalline, polycrystalline or amorphous silicon, as well as other thin-film semiconductor materials. Monocrystalline silicon cells, obtained from a single pure silicon crystal, reach maximum efficiency, with values between 18% and 20% on average.
On the other hand, polycrystalline silicon cells are produced in blocks using several crystals, being cheaper and presenting an average efficiency between 16% and 17.5%.
Finally, amorphous silicon cells exhibit a disordered crystalline structure, which negatively affects their performance (average efficiency between 8% and 9%), although they are also characterized by a lower cost.
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