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.
After implement 70% of floating solar plant it became clear, that current market solutions are not suitable for such application, due to extreme condition on top of Kruonis PSHP reservoir – changing water level, big waves and other meteorological effects. These conditions are increasing the risk for the floating PV system and Kruonis PSHP operation.
Contracts with current partners are terminated and the project is postponed.