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Article

Water Conservation Potential of Self-Funded Foam-Based Flexible Surface-Mounted Floatovoltaics

1
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
2
Department of Material Science & Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
3
School of Electrical Engineering, Aalto University, FI-00076 Esburg, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Energies 2020, 13(23), 6285; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13236285
Received: 20 October 2020 / Revised: 14 November 2020 / Accepted: 25 November 2020 / Published: 28 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Green Energy Technology)
A potential solution to the coupled water–energy–food challenges in land use is the concept of floating photovoltaics or floatovoltaics (FPV). In this study, a new approach to FPV is investigated using a flexible crystalline silicon-based photovoltaic (PV) module backed with foam, which is less expensive than conventional pontoon-based FPV. This novel form of FPV is tested experimentally for operating temperature and performance and is analyzed for water-savings using an evaporation calculation adapted from the Penman–Monteith model. The results show that the foam-backed FPV had a lower operating temperature than conventional pontoon-based FPV, and thus a 3.5% higher energy output per unit power. Therefore, foam-based FPV provides a potentially profitable means of reducing water evaporation in the world’s at-risk bodies of fresh water. The case study of Lake Mead found that if 10% of the lake was covered with foam-backed FPV, there would be enough water conserved and electricity generated to service Las Vegas and Reno combined. At 50% coverage, the foam-backed FPV would provide over 127 TWh of clean solar electricity and 633.22 million m3 of water savings, which would provide enough electricity to retire 11% of the polluting coal-fired plants in the U.S. and provide water for over five million Americans, annually. View Full-Text
Keywords: water; floatovoltaic; photovoltaic; energy water nexus; dual use; water conservation; FPV; floating photovoltaic; solar energy water; floatovoltaic; photovoltaic; energy water nexus; dual use; water conservation; FPV; floating photovoltaic; solar energy
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hayibo, K.S.; Mayville, P.; Kailey, R.K.; Pearce, J.M. Water Conservation Potential of Self-Funded Foam-Based Flexible Surface-Mounted Floatovoltaics. Energies 2020, 13, 6285. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13236285

AMA Style

Hayibo KS, Mayville P, Kailey RK, Pearce JM. Water Conservation Potential of Self-Funded Foam-Based Flexible Surface-Mounted Floatovoltaics. Energies. 2020; 13(23):6285. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13236285

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hayibo, Koami S., Pierce Mayville, Ravneet K. Kailey, and Joshua M. Pearce. 2020. "Water Conservation Potential of Self-Funded Foam-Based Flexible Surface-Mounted Floatovoltaics" Energies 13, no. 23: 6285. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13236285

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