Isifloating is the highest quality, most durable and cost-efficient floating solar system in the world. Its unique and patented technology allows partial or complete coverage of the water surface (bottom and slopes). It can be used in irrigation or industrial ponds, reservoirs as well as in hydroelectric or water treatment plants, mining lakes, etc.
Interview with Félix Ámez Zapatero, Business development engineer & Andrés Franco, CEO at Isigenere.
Easy Engineering: A brief description of the company and its activities.
Félix Ámez Zapatero & Andrés Franco: Isigenere is an engineering and product development company that created Isifloating, the pioneering floating solar system in the world since 2008.
Our mission is to preserve the world by using existing water bodies in our planet to generate renewable solar energy in a more efficient way, while at the same time protecting scarce water and precious land. When our system is installed, it protects the environment, reduces CO2 emissions, and contributes to a more sustainable world. The main benefits of our technology are:
free up land to be used for other purposes during the 25+ years a solar installation last.
increase 10-15% energy production from solar panels thanks to the cooling effect.
reduce more than 80% water evaporation preserving a very scarce resource.
E.E: What are the main areas of activity of the company?
F.Á.Z & A.F: Isigenere provides three services in a floating solar project. We have been working like this with companies that did not have previous knowledge of floating solar but knew how to execute ground mounted or roof top solar:
The design of the floating structure as well as the anchoring and mooring necessary for the plant to operate correctly in the water body.
The supply of all the necessary elements of the floating structure, anchoring and mooring, with fabrication done in Europe
The training to the company performing the EPC function to install the structure (or we can refer to companies that have the experience to do so).
We want to create an ecosystem of partners made up of engineering, EPCs, developers and other solar related companies that will provide specific floating solar solutions to the end clients. In our 15 years of floating-solar-only experience we work with our partners so we will not become their competitor in the future pitching to the same clients, therefore protecting their investment in developing the floating solar market. In fact, when we get clients interested in floating solar, we refer those leads to our partners so they can present an offer using our technology.
E.E: What’s the news about new products/services?
F.Á.Z & A.F: ISIFLOATING has received continued and substantial investments in technology upgrades since 2008. The current version of the system ISIFLOATING 5.0 is the highest quality, most secure, easy to transport, simple to install, nature proof and lowest O&M system in the world. Our first project installed in 2009 above an irrigation reservoir in the southeast of Spain is still operational and has provided significant learning experiences about the aging and the passage of time of a floating solar project specially with the continuous water movement that creates fatigue in all the components. ISIFLOATING’s technology is a great option for your projects given its competitive Total Cost of Ownership delivering the highest quality and durable system that minimizes risks, while giving lower costs of transportation, installation, and maintenance.
E.E: What are the ranges of products/services?
F.Á.Z & A.F: Isifloating’s high-quality polymer float device can be used to build floating solar power plants on top of multiple water environments: hydropower plants, irrigation reservoirs, natural lakes, water treatment facilities, quarry lakes, aquaculture farms, industrial water ponds and others.
E.E: What is the state of the market where you are currently active?
F.Á.Z & A.F: The potential in floating solar market is huge as up to 70,648 GB could be installed, while as a reference in 2018 the installed solar was 2,179GB.
The evolution of the floating solar market, and the expected evolution (sources cited), can be summarized in the following landmarks:
By 2050 – Niche market potential could be up to 70 GW of floating worldwide (BloombergNEF)
However, there are some significant challenges in floating solar plants to go mainstream from a technical perspective. Isigenere has been dealing with those challenges in the last 15 years.
ADAPTABILITY: adaptation to the concave profile of the water surface as water levels go up or down through the year
LOGISTICS: Any project takes thousands of floats. Do not pay for air being transported or devote significant space to stock material.
INSTALLATION: No need for specialized and expensive technical teams. Setting up your project should take weeks, not months.
MAINTENANCE: easy and safe access for O&M crews. Components should be resistant and exhibit partial flexible behavior.
NATURE FRIENDLY: The system must integrate and preserve nature in places where wildlife exists.
NATURE RESISTANT: Installation should stand mother nature. The combination of sun, wind, waves, snow, animals, saline water, algae, and fungus are elements technology must cope with for 25+ years.
E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?
F.Á.Z & A.F: Regarding the size of the panels, we see a trend to use larger panels but up to a point. In floating larger is not always better. We recommend and support large panels, usually M10 wafer technology that can accommodate power of around 600W. The larger panels of 650 and more tend to be bigger and heavier and we do not recommend using them as they create ~50% more mechanical stress coming from the higher wind load and the wave load. Such an increase happens not in a linear but in a quadratic way. Therefore, it increases fatigue on all the components resulting in potential risk of cell breakage, degradation, and reduced lifetime! Also, they reduce the overall buoyancy of the system that can be a factor when people walk or robots doing O&M as well as snow loads. Finally, like roof top installations, such panels are more difficult to install and replace given their larger size and weight. You might end up needing more staff and higher costs to assemble the structure!
Regarding the inclination of the FV panels, we see a trend to lower the tilt of the panels (like what is happening in many roof-top installations) as experience is showing the significant challenge high tilt can create to the projects. Right now, we only work in our floating solar system with 5 degrees of tilt. Our first system was built 15 years ago with 10 degrees of tilt, but we have reduced it to 5 degrees, and we have closed the back of the panel with the float. We have realized that there is significant wind load translated to the structure as well as the big fatigue effect it creates after several years of operation. For us this is a security feature of the system because it does not show early on but goes through time and you need the projects to last 25+ years. We understand that this low inclination produces less energy throughout the year (the lower inclination of the panels is compensated and sometimes even enhanced by the cooling effect exerted by the water near the solar panels), but we strongly believe that durability of the system is more relevant. However, 5 degrees can produce more energy in the summer season, which can be an advantage for self-consumption for solar pumping.
We also observe growth in two segments for floating solar projects: self-consumption and utility scale.
For example, in Spain there are more than 80,000 reservoirs (irrigation or industrial), and existing regulation resulting in numerous opportunities that can be financed through PPAs/Public Funds/Banks
The main Industries with the greatest potential in Floating Solar Self Consumption, are Agriculture (pumping of water and preservation of water for irrigation purposes preservation of land for agriculture or leasing of water bodies), Water management (water companies, water treatment and desalination plants. Preservation of water, as it is the main asset for generating renewable energy.) and Industry (water storage for production processes, fire protection as ceramics, refineries, solar thermal…)
There are more than 1200 dams (Spain is the first in Europe/fifth in the world).
The types of water bodies with potential for floating solar in utility scale are hydroelectric plants (hydroelectric systems with close access to the grid that reduce costs and the possibility of supplementing current production with the evacuation point exist), quarry lakes (Non-productive area. From pollution to green generation) large agricultural reservoirs (benefits receiving money from rental of water body, preservation of water for irrigation purposes and preservation of land for agriculture) public reservoirs (nearby connection points, reduction of vaporization)
Another trend is on regulation for the construction and operation of utility scale solar installations, where we see that it is developing at different speeds in different countries, but the progress towards a favorable regulation in all of them is remarkable. Having a European guideline could speed up the adoption of the technology in several markets. As part of the regulation, we see two key parts:
The necessary permissions for the execution of a floating solar plant, which usually have a local, regional, and state character, as well as from the electricity companies themselves.
The environmental permits to be confident of these installations, where pilot projects and several studies continue to be developed to evaluate potential impact of these installations on the water, the flora, and the fauna present in the aquatic environment. Right now, what we are seeing is that in general, the benefits of a floating solar installation exceed and outweigh the potential environmental impact.
E.E: What are the most innovative products/services marketed?
F.Á.Z & A.F: Our flagship product, Isifloating 5.0, stands out as one of the most innovative offerings in the market. Its four key differentiators Hight Quality, Safe, Cost Efficient and Adaptability, distinguish it from competitors, and it reflects our commitment to providing innovative solutions to our customers.
Isifloating’s key differentiators – High Quality
Injection molding process provides durability and precision in manufacturing.
Higher minimum thickness in any part of the float and higher thicknesses in most critical ones.
Unique and patented bi-float design.
Best materials (Virgin HDPE, 100% Recyclable, UV, and antioxidant additives)
Higher quality connectors are made with polyamide/nylon and fiberglass.
Fast speed of manufacturing (1MW float output in less than 5 full days) with the possibility to setup local production for large projects in a matter of weeks
Extensive testing to continually improve the product and make sure the product will withstand the design conditions.
Isifloating’s key differentiators – Safe
For people who perform O&M:
Greater stability and buoyancy (250 kg per solar panel thanks to its bi-float design and 135 kg/m2 in walkway float) withstanding weighty loads like O&M personal, inverters, snow loads or big animals.
Easy and secure walking access to all solar panels for cleaning and maintenance tasks
For the investment for +25 years:
Real life experience of more than 14 years
High quality materials and specifications
Minimum wind drag thanks to the aerodynamic design of only 5º tilt angle
Isifloating’s key differentiators – Adaptable
To the growing needs:
As it is modular, you can start small and then grow the plant in a flexible way.
To the different water levels:
When water goes down, the floats can rest above the embankments of the reservoirs.
To reservoirs with small surface areas:
Higher peak power by area by its low tilt design and the possibility of the floats to rest on the slopes (170 Wp/ m2 with 550Wp panels)
To environmental challenges:
Supports 180 km/h winds, 1.0m high waves (or bigger with breakwater), extreme temperatures (-20 to +60°C)
The innovative nestable design of the floats takes up less space. Efficiency in logistics can bring 0,04 to 0,06 €/wp cost advantage depending on the location.
The efficiency in installation can bring additional cost advantages of 0,006-0,016€/wp.
ISIFLOATING 5.0 provides safe and low-cost maintenance tasks.
E.E: What estimations do you have for the beginning of 2024?
F.Á.Z & A.F: As we enter 2024, we are optimistic about the expansion in terms of volume and number of projects in our main markets. We are expanding manufacturing capabilities in markets where we see strong potential.
At the same time, we will keep in evolving the technology creating new versions of Isifloating, to adapt to the standards that the leading panel manufacturers are proposing for the years to come, improvements in the aerodynamic design of the floating units, and R&D on materials, position us for a successful and dynamic years ahead.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.