Masen entrusted Suntrace, a German company, with an opportunity study concerning floating photovoltaics. A real opportunity to fight against the evaporation of water on dams. The cost of setting up and producing electricity will be decisive in adopting this technology, according to Masen.
What if it was the solution to water evaporation in dams in Morocco? Floating photovoltaics, a technology that consists of installing solar power plants on the surfaces of hydraulic basins, may soon see the light of day across the country’s dams. A proven technique in areas where land use is high, floating PV is also a solution to the loss of water due to the evaporation of aquatic basins. Without forgetting its fundamental vocation, the production of electricity. For Morocco, the German Suntrace is currently carrying out an opportunity study for the benefit of Masen. It should lead to the adoption or not of floating photovoltaics.
A question of costs
According to Abderrahim Jamrani, Technical Design Director in Masen, Morocco, where evaporation in dams is very high, floating PV can be a practical way to avoid the loss of large amounts of water. In drought-stricken regions, it may eventually help to combat water stress. Now, the result of the current study will determine the relevance or not of this choice. “The objective of the study is not to determine the quantities of water to be gained, but to calculate the cost of this technology by comparing it to other scientific processes, such as desalination. The question to be resolved is as follows: For a cubic meter of water, is it more profitable to install a floating PV plant or a desalination plant?”, underlines Mr. Jamrani.
At equivalent cost, the choice will be made on floating photovoltaics. Especially since the regions likely to be affected by this new technology, such as the Draâ or the Tafilalet, are far from the ocean, impossible to be supplied by desalinated water without exorbitant costs. “Even gaining a few tens of thousands of m3 of water in these regions will always be very precious, given the level of water stress they face,” continues Abderrahim Jamrani.
Dams near power plants are targeted
If the costs prove to be very high, the floating photovoltaic option will be abandoned. Now, on the Masen side, we are already thinking about dams located near Morocco’s solar power plants, such as the El Mansour Eddahbi dam, near Ouarzazate which houses the gigantic Noor station. In terms of capacity, this will also depend on the costs, and also on the volume of water that the new plants would allow to preserve. In any case, says Mr. Jamrani, Morocco has sufficient areas to accommodate the plants, according to the standards in force.
With regard to the environmental impact on flora and fauna, the risk can also be assessed. “The study we commissioned includes an ecological component. There are rules that must be observed, especially in terms of the depth of the basins and the proximity of the banks,” said Abderrahim Jamrani. In any case, this type of project inevitably includes this kind of impact on dams. The study will also determine their extent and the means to be implemented to avoid them. We already know that the electricity produced by floating photovoltaics is generally 20 to 25% more expensive than that produced on the ground. That didn’t stop Masen from demanding more clarification from Suntrace. “We wish to have a precise result on the case of Morocco. This question of the cost of production will be decisive. It must be specified,” continues Masen’s manager. The study includes several stages which will ultimately determine the relevance or not of this new technology. For Jamrani, “the gains that floating photovoltaics can bring are considerable, but only the study will judge if it would be opportune to carry out this project or not”, he concludes.