Huge Floating Carpet of PV's Made to Follow the Sun
The FPV market is predicted to grow significantly, increasing by 25% annually
Israeli startup XFloat is making solar energy even more efficient and cost effective by putting large numbers of photovoltaic panels on water and making them turn to track the sun.
Xfloat focuses on a market that is now called FPV – floating photovoltaic panels. The company's CEO Ran Alcalay says that “what we see now is the huge potential of using the surface of water to build energy generation. It’s a fast growing market, it’s still considered to be a niche, but it’s maybe the fastest growing niche in the photovoltaic market”. In fact, the FPV market is predicted to grow significantly, increasing by 25% annually over the next few years.
“PV and floating is the perfect mix,” Alcalay says. One of the major issues with expanding the use of PV energy is the availability of space for the panels needed to absorb the light of the sun – making water an extremely viable option.
Another issue is the limited time in which static panels can absorb the rays of the sun, which is where Xfloat’s technology comes in. The company’s intelligent water management system allows the panels to move with the sun. According to Alcalay, the tiling movement that tracks the sun results in 20 percent more yield.
The system works by installing the floating panels on top of floating tanks laid out in a massive grid, which Alcalay calls “a huge floating carpet.” Each panel is connected to a tank, and each tank is connected to the system that follows the sun through the sky. This system, with its proprietary algorithms, pumps water in and out of the tanks in order to angle the panels to chase the light.
“We developed the software and hardware parts together,” Alcalay says. “The whole idea was to have an autonomous system.” Data from the FPVs at each plant is collected via the cloud and analyzed to improve the system.
The Xfloat technology is already in operation on two reservoirs in Hof HaCarmel Regional Council in northern Israel, where together they form what Alcalay says is the biggest FPV tracker in the world.