The global floating solar panels market is expected to grow from $13.8 million in 2015 to $2.7 billion by 2025, according to a new report from Grand View Research.
The technology, which carries photovoltaic solar panels at sea or in landlocked water basins, is expected to see significant growth over the next eight years due to the rising demand for reliable renewable power generation that does not use expensive real estate on terra firma.
The world's largest ongoing floating solar panel project on the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Japan, has a generating capacity of 13.7MW.
"The ability to mitigate land cost is expected to favor demand over the projected period," said the report, titled Floating Solar Panels Market Size & Trend Analysis.
Most of the growth in the global floating solar market -- also known as Floatovoltaics -- will come from the nations deploying it, which include Japan, the UK, China and Brazil.
Japan, in particular, is expected to lead the way for floating solar panels primarily because of the low availability of land coupled with limited natural resources. In 2015, Japan accounted for 75% of the floating solar market revenue. In addition, the industry is expected to grow substantially because of numerous plans sanctioned by the Japanese government.
In addition, the growing need for electricity in the country is expected to push demand for floating solar plants over the next decade.
Currently, there is less than 50MW of floating solar power installed globally, but that could double to 100MW this year, according to Benjamin Attia, a research analyst for Global Solar Markets at GTM Research.
Floating photovoltaics (PV) technology has the advantage of increased albedo (or reflective power from the water's surface) and natural module cooling, which results in higher peak efficiency, Attia said. It also benefits from reduced leasing and permitting costs and non-invasive land use, "which can be a major factor in land-restricted markets like Japan and Taiwan.
"However, concerns over long-term degradation and corrosion, costly corrective maintenance, and specialized mounting structures, pontoons, and anchors are not easily scalable and likely to inflate the project's balance of systems costs," Attia said in an email response to Computerworld. "I do expect floating PV demand to continue to rise, but mainly in specific use-case applications, such as land-restricted markets such as Japan and Taiwan, wastewater treatment plants, hydroelectric dams and pumped storage reservoirs, and perhaps marshland restoration projects, where they can provide protection against evaporation and algal blooms."
Much more promising than the latter, Attia said, would be solar built atop canals, which is becoming increasingly common in Southeast Asia and India.
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