Benefits and Critical Knowledge Gaps in Determining the Role of Floating Photovoltaics in the Energy-Water-Food Nexus

Sika Gadzanku, Heather Mirletz, Nathan Lee, Jennifer Daw, Adam Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus Citations

Abstract

Floating solar photovoltaic (FPV) systems have become an increasingly attractive application of photovoltaics (PV) because of land-use constraints, the cost of land and site preparation, and the perceived energy and environmental co-benefits. Despite the increasing interest in FPV systems, a robust validation of their suggested co-benefits and impacts on the nexus of energy, water, and food (EWF) systems is lacking. This information gap makes it challenging for decision makers to justify its adoption—potentially suppressing FPV deployment. To address this gap and to help de-risk this PV deployment opportunity, we (1) review the suggested co-benefits of FPV systems with a focus on the impacts that could alleviate pressures on EWF systems and (2) identify areas where further research is needed to reduce uncertainty around FPV system performance. Our review reveals that EWF nexus-relevant co-benefits, such as improved panel efficiency and reduced land usage, are corroborated in the literature, whereas others, such as water quality impacts, lack empirical evidence. Our findings indicate that further research is needed to quantify the water-related and broader economic, environmental, social, sustainability, justice, and resilience co-benefits and impacts of FPV systems.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number4317
Number of pages17
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume13
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-7A40-78427

Keywords

  • Co-benefits
  • Energy-water-food nexus
  • Floating solar
  • Food security
  • FPV
  • Impacts
  • Photovoltaics
  • Renewable energy
  • Water security

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