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French firm launches floating solar power system to market

Solar firm Ciel et Terre has launched a large-scale floating solar power generation system – the “world’s first”, according to the French company.

The modular Hydrélio system comes in a variety of versions and can be used to construct power plants generating up to 50MW. The basic module consists of two blow-moulded floats made of HDPE plastic material. One supports the solar panel and the other is used as a link and to provide maintenance access. The floats are then joined together to form solar islands, using a system of connection pins. According to Ciel et Terre interest in Hydrélio is “promising” following its launch into the international markets.

Ciel et Terre developed the Hydrélio floating solar power system in partnership with energy research group IFP Energies Nouvelles (IFPEN) following a research and development agreement signed by the two companies at the end of last year. The partnership was set up under IFPEN's drive to help SMEs develop their technological innovations, with IFPEN contributing expertise in finite element modelling, structural modelling and analysis of mooring line behaviour.

The Hydrélio system will be best used in unused stretches of water, such as quarry lakes, irrigation ponds, water treatment plant lagoons and dams, Ciel et Terre said. “This new floating solar power generation concept addresses the problems of land availability and landscape impacts that large-scale land-based solar power generation projects come up against,” it said. “It makes it possible to conserve land that can be put to other uses, and to convert unused stretches of water into spaces dedicated to renewable electricity production. These stretches of water cover substantial areas.”

The Ciel et Terre-IFPEN partnership focused on analysing the mechanical strain placed on the floating system, in particular the extreme stresses caused by swell and high winds. The tests, which are structured to take into account maximum stresses related to extreme weather conditions such as cyclones and typhoons, confirm the viability of the system for all climates during over 20 years, Ciel et Terre added.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity