Invested by China Three Gorges Corporation, the world's largest hydropower producer, the 150-megawatt floating photovoltaic power station in Huainan, Anhui province, showcases the latest technological innovations in the PV industry in its advanced experimental field with special modules, an incubation base and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.
The floating solar farm on a coal mining subsidence area in Panji district of Huainan, Anhui province [Photo/sasac.gov.cn]
The project uses the water surface from an area of coal mining subsidence. "Technological innovation is the key to the project's overall development," said a staff member at the PV power station.
"It is the largest floating photovoltaic project with advanced technology in the world. By applying the state-of-the-art technologies and new materials, we are aiming to play a leading role in upgrading the PV technologies for the whole industry, making good use of the coal mining subsidence area and constructing a world-class floating station," he added.
Stable floats and anchorage system
A row of photovoltaic panels are installed on the floats, on which inspectors can work freely thanks to their stable design and anchorage system, said Zhang Xubao, a technician for the project.
A floating photovoltaic power station usually contains photovoltaic modules, electric equipment and the floating platform. As the fundamental support for the whole project, the floating platform is able to ensure stability of the float and the anchorage system.
The project occasionally encounters concrete difficulties due to a lack of practical experience in building a floating photovoltaic anchorage system and the complicated underwater hydrology of the coal mining subsidence area.
To ensure the stable operation of the station in its lifecycle, China Three Gorges New Energy Huainan Photovoltaic Power Co Ltd has invited professionals from scientific institutions and marine engineering companies to collect environmental data regarding meteorological phenomena, hydrology and topography and analyze the main factors that influence float stability.
The experts select the mainstream floating products in the market and conduct technical analysis to ensure that the design of the anchorage system allows for safe and stable operation under extreme weather and water conditions.
On this basis, the anchorage system and other functions such as freezing, flood control and fire protection are combined.
"To date, the project has withstood a blizzard in January 2018 and a typhoon with wind speeds above 17.2 kilometers per second in August," said Zhang.
PV system on water surface
A 5-megawatt experimental water field with special photovoltaic modules is a core part of the project. It has modules such as a Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) solar cells, HIT and double-sided N-type single crystals.
Through field application, technicians can analyze and compare the efficiency and reliability of different modules and the equipment system to choose the best module for the floating PV station.
"The demand for the PV modules is huge and the project provides a good platform for testing all kinds of new PV modules.”
"By launching research on the reliability and efficiency of different modules in an actual operating environment, we can offer technical support for the whole industry and boost the development of PV projects in the future," said the staff member.
The company has created a research platform for independent innovations to promote its brand.
"We are building an innovation lab and a research operation platform on the water surface to combine advanced equipment with modern technologies. We aim to realize a series of functions such as technological innovation, safety control and the supervision of the water environment," said Zhang.
Through the platform, the company is expected to establish a floating incubation base for research and technology. It will also be a long-term internship base for students at Tsinghua University.
"We are not only making technologies, but also setting up industrial standards," said the staff member.
To fully understand the technological standards and norms of the floating industry in China and abroad, the company has conducted field surveys on domestic float manufacturers and floating PV stations and made on-the-spot investigations at stations in countries such as Singapore and Japan.
The company has drafted documents on the production and supervision of floats in cooperation with the National Center of Supervision and Inspection on Solar Photovoltaic Product Quality, the China Quality Certification Centre and domestic floats manufacturers to supervise the whole process from raw materials, production, transport and inspection.
The station has become a name card for the development of the local economy and made a landmark contribution to floating PV power stations nationwide.
(Executive editor: Li Shuling)