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Combining Floating Solar Photovoltaic Power Plants and Hydropower Reservoirs: A Virtual Battery of Great Global Potential

Authors:

Abstract

Artificial water reservoirs have been created over history for a variety of purposes such as flood control, seasonal water storage for irrigation, fishing, hydropower generation, energy storage, etc. Globally, hydropower represents still the largest share of renewable electricity generation, with over 1170 GW of capacity installed, thereof 328 GW is hydro Run-of-River capacity, and the rest is hydro reservoir based (141 GW of which is hydro pumped storage), controlled to different degrees. These reservoirs cover a surface of approximately 265.7 thousand km 2 with the potential to host 4400 GW of floating photovoltaic (PV) power plants at 25% reservoir surface coverage and generate approximately 6270 TWh of electricity. This capacity can be extended to 5700 GW and about 8000 TWh of electricity if all reservoirs (hydropower and for other purposes) are covered at 25%, in both cases generating already more electricity than hydropower from reservoirs at about 2510 TWh. The flexibility of operation of hydro reservoir based power plants and their current connection to grids facilitates a "virtual battery" consisting of supplying the electricity demand with solar energy during peak irradiation hours, while balancing grids with hydropower during low/no irradiation times and providing a zero impact area for PV power plant deployment. The characteristics of the "virtual battery" are investigated and presented in this study. The PV power plants also could prevent approximately 74 billion m 3 of water evaporation, further benefiting hydropower production and water conservation, increasing water availability by an estimated 6.3%, adding an estimated 142.5 TWh of production to reservoir-based hydropower plants.
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Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
ScienceDirect
Energy Procedia 00 (2017) 000–000
www.elsevier.com/locate/procedia
1876-6102 © 2017The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Peer-review under responsibility of the Scientific Committee of The 15th International Symposium on District Heating and Cooling.
The 15th International Symposium on District Heating and Cooling
Assessing the feasibility of using the heat demand-outdoor
temperature function for a long-term district heat demand forecast
I. Andrića,b,c*, A. Pinaa, P. Ferrãoa, J. Fournierb., B. Lacarrièrec, O. Le Correc
aIN+ Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research -Instituto Superior Técnico,Av. Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001 Lisbon, Portugal
bVeolia Recherche & Innovation,291 Avenue Dreyfous Daniel, 78520 Limay, France
cDépartement Systèmes Énergétiques et Environnement -IMT Atlantique, 4 rue Alfred Kastler, 44300 Nantes, France
Abstract
District heating networks are commonly addressed in the literature as one of the most effective solutions for decreasing the
greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector. These systems require high investments which are returned through the heat
sales. Due to the changed climate conditions and building renovation policies, heat demand in the future could decrease,
prolonging the investment return period.
The main scope of this paper is to assess the feasibility of using the heat demand outdoor temperature function for heat demand
forecast. The district of Alvalade, located in Lisbon (Portugal), was used as a case study. The district is consisted of 665
buildings that vary in both construction period and typology. Three weather scenarios (low, medium, high) and three district
renovation scenarios were developed (shallow, intermediate, deep). To estimate the error, obtained heat demand values were
compared with results from a dynamic heat demand model, previously developed and validated by the authors.
The results showed that when only weather change is considered, the margin of error could be acceptable for some applications
(the error in annual demand was lower than 20% for all weather scenarios considered). However, after introducing renovation
scenarios, the error value increased up to 59.5% (depending on the weather and renovation scenarios combination considered).
The value of slope coefficient increased on average within the range of 3.8% up to 8% per decade, that corresponds to the
decrease in the number of heating hours of 22-139h during the heating season (depending on the combination of weather and
renovation scenarios considered). On the other hand, function intercept increased for 7.8-12.7% per decade (depending on the
coupled scenarios). The values suggested could be used to modify the function parameters for the scenarios considered, and
improve the accuracy of heat demand estimations.
© 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Peer-review under responsibility of the Scientific Committee of The 15th International Symposium on District Heating and
Cooling.
Keywords: Heat demand; Forecast; Climate change
Energy Procedia 155 (2018) 403–411
1876-6102 © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the scientific committee of the 12th International Renewable Energy Storage
Conference.
10.1016/j.egypro.2018.11.038
10.1016/j.egypro.2018.11.038
© 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the scientic committee of the 12th International Renewable Energy Storage
Conference.
1876-6102
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
ScienceDirect
Energy Procedia 00 (2018) 000000
www.elsevier.com/locate/procedia
1876-6102 © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the scientific committee of the 12th International Renewable Energy Storage Conference.
12th International Renewable Energy Storage Conference, IRES 2018
Combining Floating Solar Photovoltaic Power Plants and
Hydropower Reservoirs: A Virtual Battery of Great Global Potential
Javier Farfan*, Christian Breyer
Lappeenranta University of Technology, School of Energy Systems, Skinnarilankatu 34, 53850, Lappeenranta, Finland
Abstract
Artificial water reservoirs have been created over history for a variety of purposes such as flood control, seasonal water storage for
irrigation, fishing, hydropower generation, energy storage, etc. Globally, hydropower represents still the largest share of renewable
electricity generation, with over 1170 GW of capacity installed, thereof 328 GW is hydro Run-of-River capacity, and the rest is
hydro reservoir based (141 GW of which is hydro pumped storage), controlled to different degrees. These reservoirs cover a surface
of approximately 265.7 thousand km2 with the potential to host 4400 GW of floating photovoltaic (PV) power plants at 25%
reservoir surface coverage and generate approximately 6270 TWh of electricity. This capacity can be extended to 5700 GW and
about 8000 TWh of electricity if all reservoirs (hydropower and for other purposes) are covered at 25%, in both cases generating
already more electricity than hydropower from reservoirs at about 2510 TWh. The flexibility of operation of hydro reservoir based
power plants and their current connection to grids facilitates a “virtual battery consisting of supplying the electricity demand with
solar energy during peak irradiation hours, while balancing grids with hydropower during low/no irradiation times and providing
a zero impact area for PV power plant deployment. The characteristics of the “virtual battery” are investigated and presented in
this study. The PV power plants also could prevent approximately 74 billion m3 of water evaporation, further benefiting hydropower
production and water conservation, increasing water availability by an estimated 6.3%, adding an estimated 142.5 TWh of
production to reservoir-based hydropower plants.
© 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the scientific committee of the 12th International Renewable Energy Storage
Conference.
Keywords: Renewable energy; floating photovoltaic; virtual battery; water reservoir; hydropower
* Corresponding author. Tel.: + 358 417 057 569;
E-mail address: javier.farfan.orozco@lut.fi
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
ScienceDirect
Energy Procedia 00 (2018) 000000
www.elsevier.com/locate/procedia
1876-6102 © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the scientific committee of the 12th International Renewable Energy Storage Conference.
12th International Renewable Energy Storage Conference, IRES 2018
Combining Floating Solar Photovoltaic Power Plants and
Hydropower Reservoirs: A Virtual Battery of Great Global Potential
Javier Farfan*, Christian Breyer
Lappeenranta University of Technology, School of Energy Systems, Skinnarilankatu 34, 53850, Lappeenranta, Finland
Abstract
Artificial water reservoirs have been created over history for a variety of purposes such as flood control, seasonal water storage for
irrigation, fishing, hydropower generation, energy storage, etc. Globally, hydropower represents still the largest share of renewable
electricity generation, with over 1170 GW of capacity installed, thereof 328 GW is hydro Run-of-River capacity, and the rest is
hydro reservoir based (141 GW of which is hydro pumped storage), controlled to different degrees. These reservoirs cover a surface
of approximately 265.7 thousand km2 with the potential to host 4400 GW of floating photovoltaic (PV) power plants at 25%
reservoir surface coverage and generate approximately 6270 TWh of electricity. This capacity can be extended to 5700 GW and
about 8000 TWh of electricity if all reservoirs (hydropower and for other purposes) are covered at 25%, in both cases generating
already more electricity than hydropower from reservoirs at about 2510 TWh. The flexibility of operation of hydro reservoir based
power plants and their current connection to grids facilitates a “virtual battery consisting of supplying the electricity demand with
solar energy during peak irradiation hours, while balancing grids with hydropower during low/no irradiation times and providing
a zero impact area for PV power plant deployment. The characteristics of the “virtual battery” are investigated and presented in
this study. The PV power plants also could prevent approximately 74 billion m3 of water evaporation, further benefiting hydropower
production and water conservation, increasing water availability by an estimated 6.3%, adding an estimated 142.5 TWh of
production to reservoir-based hydropower plants.
© 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the scientific committee of the 12th International Renewable Energy Storage
Conference.
Keywords: Renewable energy; floating photovoltaic; virtual battery; water reservoir; hydropower
* Corresponding author. Tel.: + 358 417 057 569;
E-mail address: javier.farfan.orozco@lut.fi
404 Javier Farfan et al. / Energy Procedia 155 (2018) 403–411
2 Javier Farfan and Christian Breyer / Energy Procedia 00 (2018) 000000
1. Introduction
Hydropower is a well established technology that has played an important role in the global power system since
the beginning of centralized power distribution systems. The oldest (but still operating) hydropower plants have been
active since the end of the 19th century [1]. Hydropower plants are operating throughout the planet, with presence in
almost every country in the world. There is 701.1 GW of active hydropower plant, reservoir-based capacity installed
worldwide (see Figure 1) and 138.7 GW of hydro pumped storage capacity [1].
Shown in Figure 1 is the distribution of reservoir-based hydropower plants globally. It can be noticed that in large,
commonly dry areas (Sahara, Northern Mexico, Central USA, Persian Gulf, Australia, etc.) the level of hydropower
installations are noticeable lower, nevertheless present. This is due to the fact that hydropower is a major, localized
resource.
Fig 1. Active global installed capacity of reservoir-based hydropower plants in 2014. Data is taken from [1].
In contrast, solar photovoltaic (PV) generation started having a limited presence in the 1980s, but since then
installations have increased in an exponential manner, matching the exponential fall of the price of solar PV panels,
occupying a significant share of the new power installations since the year 2010 [1,2]. By end of 2016 the global
cumulative installed PV capacity was 306 GW [2], and in 2017 new PV capacity of about 100 GW was added [3]. A
very strong growth of PV capacity in the multi TW scale is expected till the mid of the 21st century [1, 2, 4]. However,
despite both technologies having shares of the global electricity system for a few decades already, PV and hydropower
have only recently started to meet [5-10]. A wide array of designs is currently being either designed, tested or deployed
[11], including concepts such as floating platforms, floating thin films, submerged PV panels, etc. Though the
characteristics differ from one design to another, the advantages of floating PV (FPV) systems are very clear:
Using water surfaces for FPV deployment provides areas of potential zero impact and hardly any alternative use
The cooling provided by the water increases the PV panels’ efficiency
The shading provided by the FPV panels prevents a significant amount of water evaporation
The shading provided by the PV panels significantly reduces algae growth, thus improving water quality
Water surfaces provide areas free of shading objects (trees, buildings, etc.) and a higher sunlight reflection
coefficient, optimal for PV deployment
Due to the aforementioned reasons, FPV plants hold a huge potential globally. Moreover, further advantages occur
when both FPV and hydropower reservoirs meet, such as grid connectivity (with transmission lines, transformers,
etc.) already present, every litre of water prevented from evaporation will produce additional hydropower energy, etc.
An additional feature that has not yet been analysed is the ability of the hydropower plant to act as a virtual battery of
Javier Farfan et al. / Energy Procedia 155 (2018) 403–411 405
Javier Farfan and Christian Breyer / Energy Procedia 00 (2018) 000000 3
the FPV plant.
One of the disadvantages of solar energy is that it depends on weather conditions and patterns, location-specific
radiation levels, and daily natural cycles. Because of this, solar energy production is not controllable. On the other
hand, reservoir-based hydropower (when sufficient water is present) is highly controllable, though due to its historic
low cost is normally used as baseline capacity production. However, the current and projected fall in cost of PV
systems [12, 13] can shift this tendency. The now potentially cheaper solar energy can be used directly while using
the water reservoir and hydropower plant as virtual batteries to balance intermittent electricity generation.
Under a “virtual battery” configuration, during high irradiation time, the power generated by the FPV panels would
be transmitted to the grid and used directly, while either the reservoir accumulates (when there is an inflow stream)
or just holds water that can be then later used during times of low or absent solar irradiation. In this manner, the
reservoir itself becomes a battery, where the “charge” is the water spared from being used or accumulated while the
direct solar energy is being used. This is of course feasible due to the high flexibility of hydropower plant operation.
2. Methodology
The base data used to perform this research is the global reservoir and dam (GRanD) database [14]. The database
compiles all known water reservoirs for which the water level can be purposely controlled. A total of 6863 reservoirs
are listed, of which 2134 are listed with hydropower capabilities, either as main or secondary use. Among the data
fields, specified information includes location coordinates, name of the reservoir/dam, province, country, closest
population centre, average water discharge, reported reservoir surface area, volume capacity, maximum and minimum
reported surface areas, main and secondary use of the reservoir, head of the dam, etc. In total, the water reservoirs that
fuel hydropower plants provide a reported surface area [14] of approximately 263 thousand km2 of water, which
represents an area of potential zero impact. The 263 thousand km2 of total surface is obtained by adding up the
minimum reported surface area of each reservoir, when indicated, or the reported surface area (when minimum area
is not indicated).
For the 2134 reservoirs marked with hydropower function, reservoir capacity (in million cubic meters) and annual
average discharge (in litres per second) information is always listed, but only 1768 list a number for reported area
(square kilometres). The rest of the unspecified area was estimated according to a global average volume-to-surface
ratio, as area is a vital factor for FPV potential calculation.
The electricity storage capacity of the dam is calculated according to Equations 1 and 2;
=  ∗  ∗  ∗ ℎ ∗ Ȯ ∗  (1)
Τ = / (2)
Table 1: Definition of terms for Equations 1 and 2
Symbols
Description
E
η
ρ
Ȯ
g
h
Τ
φ
θ
Maximum electricity storage capacity of the reservoir (Wh)
Efficiency of turbine + generator (assumed 90% for hydropower)
Density of water (kg/m3)
Water flow (m3/s)
Gravity constant (rounded to 9.81 m/s2)
Head of the dam (m)
Time (hours)
Volume capacity of the reservoir (m3)
Yearly average discharge ratio of the reservoir (m3/s)
For the FPV plant assumptions, the power density and water evaporation prevention ratios are obtained from [5],
at 66.82 Wp/m2 and 1.1 m3H2O/m2FPV, respectively. As for FPV energy production, a simulation of the irradiation maps
for optimally fixed-tilted PV systems was calculated per location according to the global annual irradiation profiles
used by [15]. Influencing effects of the surrounding waters are neglected, such as cooling or albedo effects. Every
reservoir surface area was assumed to be covered by only 25%, to protect the FPV from being affected b y fluctuating
water levels, (though as tested by [5] it seems not to be a constraint). The results are simulated according to the 145
geographic regions defined by [15].
406 Javier Farfan et al. / Energy Procedia 155 (2018) 403–411
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3. Results and Discussion
Under the assumptions and methods previously presented, the following findings have been obtained. Figure 2
presents the potential installation capacity (bottom) and the potential electricity generation (top) by FPV for the
reservoirs with hydropower capabilities (regardless of whether it is the main or secondary purpose of the reservoir).
The focus on hydropower capable reservoirs is due to the fact that they have lower potential cost integration, as grid
connectivity is already available. A total of 4400 GWp of FPV capacity could be installed and 6270 TWh could be
generated globally by covering only 25% of the estimated surface area of the reservoirs, which can then be used
virtually as a battery. The regions of the world with the highest potential for virtual battery operation are mostly in
Siberia, Eastern Europe, the Nordic countries, some parts of North and South America, and Central Africa. As
expected, areas predominantly dry, such as the Persian Gulf and North Africa, have significantly less potential (as
they have less available water). The largest controllable water reservoir is located in Africa, within the borders of the
integrated region of the territories of Kenya and Uganda, which, combined with pristine solar irradiation conditions,
creates the spot with the most potential of hydropower combined with FPV.
Fig. 2. Potential electricity generated per year from (top) and potential capacity of (bottom) FPV covering 25% of the water surface of
hydropower reservoirs.
To put things into perspective, Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance [16] estimates that the global demand for
electricity storage by 2030 is going to be around 300 GWh, that is, doubling six times from 2016 levels. Whereas,
Javier Farfan et al. / Energy Procedia 155 (2018) 403–411 407
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other research [4] indicates a total global storage demand (throughput) of about 15,100 TWhel by 2050 for a global
100% renewable electricity system, and thereof 10,100 TWhel of utility-scale batteries. For reference, it is estimated
that hydropower from reservoirs contributes 2510 TWhel to global electricity generation [17], and further growth may
be rather limited. This is already less than what can be potentially produced by covering only 25% of the surface of
reservoirs by FPV. Extending further the coverage ratio of the reservoir to 50% would then double the potential energy
generated by FPV to 12,540 TWh. However, environmental and social constraints should be further investigated.
Furthermore, if the FPV installations were to be extended to reservoirs of all purposes, the installed capacity and
generation would extend to 5700 GW (bottom) of FPV capacity and 8039 TWh (top), respectively, as shown in Figure
3. An approximated 74 billion m3H2O would be prevented from evaporation, thus increasing roughly 6.3% the available
water of the reservoirs per year for further energy production (approximately 142.5 TWh assuming 90% hydropower
efficiency) or any alternative intended purpose of the reservoir. As reported by [18], just the water conservation
advantage is already enough reason for PV systems to be installed over water bodies in high water stress areas, for
which, depending on the coverage ratio, evaporation can be reduced by 50% to 80%. Also, up to an additional 7% of
efficiency was reported on the solar panels compared to ground mounted systems [18].
Fig 3. Potential electricity generated per year from (top) and potential capacity of (bottom) FPV plants over water reservoirs of all purposes at a
reservoir coverage ratio of 25%.
Figure 3 shows a significantly “brighter” picture than what can be seen in Figure 2, which is caused by an additional
28% of electricity which can be generated when reservoirs of all purposes (hydropower, agriculture, recreation, etc.)
have their surface covered at a 25% ratio. This scenario presents some additional advantages. Visible in Figure 3, it
408 Javier Farfan et al. / Energy Procedia 155 (2018) 403–411
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can be noticed that water reservoirs for any purpose are more widely distributed globally, and thus are more likely to
be able to provide electricity to grids closer to population centers. Despite missing the hydropower virtual battery
functionality, such locations would still benefit from decreased water evaporation and increased PV panel efficiency.
Furthermore, the technology of FPV’s increasing popularity has led to worldwide installations reported by [7, 19] as
presented in Table 2.
Table 2. Reported FPV installations worldwide as reported by [7, 19].
Country
Total added capacity
China
Japan
United Kingdom
South Korea
Australia
Italy
United States
Spain
France
India
Singapore
Canada
376.50 MW
22.66 MW
9.33 MW
6.00 MW
4.00 MW
0.77 MW
0.67 MW
0.32 MW
0.12 MW
0.06 MW
0.005 MW
0.0005 MW
Several further FPV projects have been announced, as for Indonesia [20] (200 MW) and China (additional 1.1
GW) [19]. A first combined FPV hydropower project was realized recently in Portugal [21].
An equivalent behavior (balancing hydropower and PV instead of hydropower with FPV) has already been found
by various research [22-28]. In areas of the globe where both hydropower (dark blue in Figure 4) and a good solar
resource (light yellow and dark yellow from Figure 4) are available, hydropower is expected to shift from the
traditional “base generation” operation towards intermittent operation, covering the demand during the low solar
irradiation periods, as can be seen in Figure 4 [22]. The depicted example is for Mexico South, and further examples
can be found for Turkey [23], Argentina [24], Central America [24], US Mid Atlantics [22], Malaysia West [26],
Indonesia Sumatra [26] and Pakistan North [25]. Research results clearly indicate a substantial demand for short and
long-term storage and renewable energy easy to dispatch, such as bioenergy and hydro reservoirs, for an electricity
system based on variable renewable electricity, mainly solar PV and wind energy. Hydropower from reservoirs can
function as short-term and long-term balancing components due to their dispatchability and thus support an energy
system integration of high shares of solar PV, which is found as a major source of electricity all around the world [4,
17]. The “virtual battery” dispatch of hydro reservoirs can be studied in detail for all 145 regions for all hours of a
year for the simulated case of a 100% renewable electricity system in [23] and respective data can be downloaded.
Alternative hybrid systems of FPV plus energy storage options have been proposed, such as [29, 30]. However,
FPV combined with hydro reservoirs present the additional advantage of having the storage part of the system already
built, which, with in-depth techno-economic analysis, should prove to be the least cost option.
Javier Farfan et al. / Energy Procedia 155 (2018) 403–411 409
Javier Farfan and Christian Breyer / Energy Procedia 00 (2018) 000000 7
Fig 4. Hourly generation profile for Southern Mexico, an example of a balancing region, obtained from the supplementary material from [22].
4. Conclusions
The benefits of a FPV and hydropower system are significant. FPV, beyond being able to cover manifold the global
demand for energy storage, has advantages that extend further. The profiles of operation of hydropower plants and
PV plans have also previously been found to work in a good degree of complementarity. FPV is capable of providing
significantly more electricity (6270 TWh in total) than hydropower from reservoirs (2510 TWh in total) at a coverage
rate of 25%, while providing balance to the FPV intermittent operation. The estimated 6.3% additional water available
through prevention of water evaporation can potentially increase hydropower electricity generation by the same ratio
under the presented conditions (about 142.5 TWh assuming 90% hydropower efficiency). Depending on the location
and additional purposes of the reservoir, higher coverage ratios could be considered, thus providing even more
capacity (and electricity), and increasing the rate of water conservation. A surface coverage of 50% (of hydropower-
based reservoirs) could increase the contribution of FPV to electricity supply to about 12,540 TWh, which would
outstrip that of hydro reservoirs by factors. However, social and environmental constraints may escalate in parallel
with increasing reservoir coverage rates.
At the same time, batteries and other alternative energy storage technologies have still a strong role to be played.
The main disadvantage of hybrid FPV-hydropower configurations is that they are geographically restricted to specific
areas and strongly affected by seasons and weather patterns, and the “virtual battery” functionality is limited to the
reservoir’s capacity. Furthermore, the availability does not necessarily match population centre (demand) locations.
However, even more renewable electricity could be provided by such regions if hybrid FPV-hydropower plants were
applied. Figures 1 and 2 show, for example, high capacities in Siberia and the Amazon jungle, two mostly unpopulated
places. On the other hand, due to the immobile nature of the concept, alternative electricity storage technologies would
still cover the demand of sectors such as mobility, portable devices, transportation, etc., playing a vital role in global
energy systems.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank the Lappeenranta University of Technology for providing the means and the
resources to carry on the research and Michael Child for the English proofreading.
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