The floating PV systems, being installed in the gravel pit , Source: EVN

Ex-gravel pit in Austria – turned into a floating solar farm

Ex-gravel pit in Austria – turned into a floating solar farm

The new installation will be able to power around 7,500 homes in the local area

A new floating photovoltaic (PV) system is about to join the electricity grid in Austria. However, as opposed to similar projects, floating at sea, the new PV farm in Grafenwörth will float on two open-pit gravel mining sites.

The floating solar farm is a project for the international energy company EVN and is scheduled for completion in spring 2023. The project cost around 22 million euros and will be able to power about 7,500 homes with green energy.

In harmony with nature and the grid

As a landlocked country, Austria has a somewhat unenviable position to make use of conventional renewable energies. Both wind farms and solar installations can benefit greatly from proximity to a sea or ocean, with constant and stable winds feeding wind turbines and clearing skies so PV systems get the most sunlight.

According to an official statement, Grafenwörth gets 1,500 hours of sunshine per year, with short-term averages going down in the winter. The installation is estimated to be able to produce 24.5 megawatt-hours of energy at peak production.

However, considering PV systems’ output fluctuates between days and nights, a press statement from EVN claims that the company will need to add more capacity with switching stations to balance the grid. Nevertheless, increasing renewable energy production is an important goal, as the company plans to expand its capacity to cover 60% of its output by 2034.

In terms of environmental impact, the floating farms in Grafenwörth have been co-designed by ECOwind, a company specializing in renewable energy systems. The solar panels themselves float, mounted on plastic containers. Moreover, they block sunlight from entering the former pits, preventing harmful algae formation. Another big advantage of the installation is that it will be cooled from below, which could keep critical electronic components working for longer.



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