Pilot project of floating solar power plant conceived in KTU receives state funding

Important | 2019-02-26

Experimental floating photovoltaic solar power plant project in Kruonis pumped storage hydroelectric power plant (PSHPP), developed by Lithuanian state-owned enterprise Lietuvos Energijos Gamyba and Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) has received funding from the Lithuanian Business Support Agency. The total amount of 235k EUR has been granted, informs delfi.en.

In the competition, 139 applications were assessed, 91 of which received grants. The floating solar power plant project has been rated among the best applications.

Lietuvos Eenergijos Gamyba is developing the project together with KTU researchers; the project was conceived by young KTU researchers in spring 2018.

Today, around 400 hydroelectric plants globally do not make any additional use of their water reservoirs. According to the calculations of KTU researchers, if all the surface of the Kruonis PSHPP was covered with solar panels, Lithuania would have the largest floating solar panels plant in the world. The full-size power plant could reach approximately 200-250 MW capacity and would be able to supply more than 120k households yearly. At the moment, the largest floating solar panel plant having the capacity of 40 MW is situated in Huainan, China.

The professor of the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Faculty at the KTU Saulius Gudžius agrees that the solar power project in Kruonis PSHP is indeed unique.

„As Bill Gates once told, if he had to choose his future career now, he would go for artificial intelligence, energy or biosciences, the three spheres he considers to have the biggest impact to the World. With the floating solar power plant project, we aim to combine the first two spheres – new energy solutions and digital technologies, developing an algorithm to manage the system of energy production. This experimental solution should make a significant contribution both in terms of creating a sustainable energy system and promoting technological competitiveness of the country”, tells Professor Gudžius.

During the primary stage of the project, Lietuvos Energijos Gamyba and KTU plan to install an experimental (60 kW) solar power plant in the upper-reservoir of the Kruonis PSHPP and to develop an algorithm for managing the power plant and energy storage system. The algorithm will take into account constantly registered network and other physical parameters of the Kruonis PSHPP. Having evaluated the results of the pilot project, the idea of covering the whole 300 ha upper-reservoir of Kruonis PSHP with the floating solar power units will be assessed.

„Successful start of the pilot solar power plant project in Kruonis PSHP is a good indicator that, as a state-owned enterprise, we really managed to get ahead in terms of innovation. Being the first of its kind in the region, this project provides us with a great possibility to become a leader in renewable energy technologies and promote Lithuania in the international R&D community”, says Dominykas Tučkus, Development and Infrastructure Director at Lietuvos Energija Group.

The primary stage of the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.

In the future, the floating photovoltaic solar power plant could use the whole upper-reservoir of the Kruonis PSHPP, covering more than 300 hectares. The structure resistant to ice and waves will also be designed to adjust to water-level variations. Combined with the battery energy storage systems, a technology like this would allow Lietuvos Energijos Gamyba to provide reliable FCR and primary reserve services. This will be of key-importance for Lithuania before and after 2025 when the country joins the continental European grid.

The floating solar power plant project is a part of the Lietuvos Energija Innovation Hub’s Open Culture and Partnerships initiative.