Floating Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark: Q1 2021 Installations on Artificial Water Bodies

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


In this report, we conduct a bottom-up analysis of the installed costs for FPV systems deployed on artificial water bodies under average site conditions (wind load of about 40 m/s, snow load of 20 psf, water depth of 50 m, water level variation of 10 m, and swell height of 1 m). We estimate an installed system cost premium of $0.26/WDC (25%) for 10-MWDC fixed-tilt FPV systems, compared with ground-mounted, fixed-tilt PV installed over bare ground. Higher structural costs related to the floats and anchoring system are the largest contributors to this premium. Currently, site investigation costs are also higher for FPV because of the additional effort needed to plan and design these more complex installations. Our preliminary sensitivity analysis shows that the installed cost of FPV systems is most sensitive to float costs, wind and snow loading, and module efficiency. FPV deployment is in an early stage, and additional experience, best practice development, and new configurations and technologies could help reduce the costs of FPV systems over time.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-7A40-80695


  • floating PV
  • floating PV cost
  • floating PV LCOE
  • floating solar cost
  • floating solar system
  • LCOE
  • PV cost
  • PV system cost
  • solar cost


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