Today, around 400 PSHPs globally do not make any additional use of their water reservoirs. Looking for ways to develop its owned infrastructure Ignitis Gamyba, together with Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) started implementing a pilot floating solar power plant project in Kruonis PSHP. Aimed at scientific research and developing innovations, this project would be the first of its kind in the region.
During the primary stage of the project, Ignitis Gamyba and KTU plan to install an experimental (60 kW) solar power plant in the upper-reservoir of the Kruonis PSHP, evaluate main grid parameters and environment effect on the system and then evaluate potential for scaling up such solution. It is a scientific research project, with the aim to evaluate structure resistance to ice and waves and design‘s ability to adjust according to water-level variations.
Having evaluated the results of the pilot project, the company will assess the idea of covering the whole 300 ha upper-reservoir of Kruonis PSHP with floating solar power units. Current location is ideal for large scale PV plant due to existing developed electricity infrastructure. The full-size power plant could reach approx. 200-250 MW – twice as much as the current capacity of the Kaunas Algirdas Brazauskas’ hydropower plant, generating enough electricity to supply more than 120k households yearly.
Currently the price for floating PV is higher when compared to PV on the ground, due to additional equipment needed such as pontoons and anchoring systems and maintenance for such system is also a challenge. On the other hand, floating PV is more effective and has increased energy yield due to water cooling effect and free space on the water is utilized. Future perspective shows that floating PV costs will be similar to PV build on land.
In February 2019, the experimental floating photovoltaic solar power plant project in Kruonis PSHP received funding from the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA). The total amount of 235k EUR have been granted. LBSA together with the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation have decided to fund the project after considering 139 applications, 91 of which received grants. The floating solar power plant project has been rated among the best applications.
Experimental floating PV was installed on Kruonis PSHP upper reservoir on December 2020, additional equipment such as various sensors were installed for needed experimental data which will allow evaluate external impact for installed system. Installed equipment involves meteorological station, separate temperature sensors, GPS tracking equipment.
The system will be tested for the next two years. Final results will be summarized at the end of 2022.
Successful completion of the both stages of the project would:
• Improve the existing infrastructure;
• Create favorable opportunities for providing reliable primary reserve service;
• Increase the attractiveness of Kruonis Industrial Park to foreign investors;
• Allow to supply about 120k households annually;
• Strengthen the image of Lithuania as an international leader in energy innovations.