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Maximizing Energy Generation & Minimizing Maintenance: The Role of Fetch in Floating Solar Platforms

Updated: Jan 10

Floating solar platforms, also known as floating photovoltaic (PV) systems, are becoming increasingly popular as a renewable energy solution. These systems are installed on bodies of water, such as small non-recreational lakes, retention ponds, and inland reservoirs. When affixed with solar panels, floating solar platforms, including those we offer here at AccuSolar, are a great source for harnessing the power of the sun; however, when it comes to installing these platforms, one factor that is often overlooked is fetch.


What is Fetch?


lake with beautiful mountains and trees with a cloudy sky

Fetch refers to the distance over water that wind can travel unobstructed. It is an important consideration when installing floating solar platforms because it affects the stability of the system. At AccuSolar our team evaluates the amount of open fetch to predict possible wind conditions. In this blog, we will explore why evaluating fetch is so important when installing floating solar platforms.


The Effect of Fetch on Solar Platforms


To begin, let's develop a comprehensive understanding of how fetch impacts floating solar platforms.


Efficiency


When wind blows across a water body, it creates waves. The size of these waves is dependent on the wind speed, duration, and fetch. Large waves can cause significant movement in floating solar platforms, which can damage the system or make it unstable. This can result in reduced efficiency or complete failure of the system. It’s also important to note that while a site location may present an amount of open fetch, it does not always result in waves. Rather, it increases the likelihood of waves in that location.

Evaluating fetch is a crucial step in our process at AccuSolar in order to ensure the stability and safety of our floating solar platforms. By understanding the wind patterns and fetch of the installation site, engineers can design and install the platform to help withstand the expected wave conditions. This can involve adjusting the size, shape, and weight of the platform, as well as the anchoring system.


Energy Generation


Fetch also affects the energy generation of the floating solar platform. When the platform is moving due to wave action, the PV panels are not pointed directly at the sun. This reduces the efficiency of the system, which can impact the overall energy generation. By evaluating fetch, engineers can design the platform to minimize movement and ensure that the PV panels remain pointed towards the sun, maximizing energy generation.


Floating Platform Lifespan


Fetch can have a hefty impact on the maintenance and lifespan of your floating solar platforms. In areas with high fetch, the platform is more likely to experience wear and tear, which can require more frequent maintenance. This can increase the overall cost of the system and reduce its lifespan. By initially evaluating fetch, engineers can design the platform to withstand predicted wave conditions, minimizing maintenance needs and extending the lifespan of the system.



Summarizing Fetch


It is crucial to recognize the impact that fetch has on floating solar platforms. From stability to energy generation, maintenance, lifespan, and environmental impact, every aspect of the system is affected by this factor. At AccuSolar, our team understands the importance of evaluating fetch during the design and installation process to ensure the floating platform can withstand the expected wave conditions, optimize energy generation, minimize maintenance requirements, and reduce the environmental footprint. By carefully considering fetch and wind patterns at the installation site, we can develop customized solutions that deliver reliable and sustainable solar energy for years to come.


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