floating solar

Potential of Floating Solar PV Plants in Southern Africa

Potential of Floating Solar PV Plants in South Africa

Over the last several years, large-scale solar PV plants have been installed to take advantage of the significant opportunity that solar power generation presents. Installations at this scale are happening internationally, regionally, as well as here in South Africa. Floating solar PV plants are a fairly new concept compared to the traditional ground-mount or roof-top solar PV plant setup. While interest and implementation of these systems are growing internationally, the local market is yet to fully tap and explore the tremendous benefits this configuration can bring.

floating solar

Source: ESI Africa

What Is a Floating Solar PV Plant?

A floating solar PV plant, as the name suggests, consists of a PV system floating on the surface of a water body. Most of the current applications of this emerging technology have used water bodies such as dams, quarry lakes, drinking water reservoirs, canals, and ponds.

The floating plant itself consists of a floating system or pontoon, which is the underlying structure and floating system upon which PV modules are installed. There is also a mooring system which fixes the floating system to a point at the bottom of the water body or anchored to the shore to prevent free movement. As with a solar land plant, there is also the solar PV DC cabling and power conversion equipment, and finally, AC cabling for power to be transferred to land. In this case, the cable can either be an underwater cable or a floating power line. The exact setup of the plant is determined by various factors such as water level fluctuations and wind load.

floating solar

Source: ESMAP

Between 2007 and 2014, several small-scale research floating solar PV plants were built, with the first one being in Japan in 2007. In 2008, California had the first commercial floating PV plant with a 175 kWp system. Floating solar PV plants are gaining traction, with Asia leading in installations. The floating solar market has tremendous potential to double the existing installed solar PV capacity by capitalizing on 400,000 square kilometers of man-made reservoirs globally by up to 400 GW. This is according to a World Bank Report called “Where Sun meets Water.”

Because the floating power plant is still in its infancy, industry standards and best practices are still in the works. DNV GL, an international accredited registrar and classification body, is at the forefront of a floating solar joint industry project working with stakeholders to develop a best practices guide by 2021.

Advantages of Floating Solar PV Plants

Why go through all the complexities of setting up a solar power plant on water? There are numerous advantages to this emerging application. Here are the main ones:

  • When existing water reservoirs are used, valuable land is freed up for other purposes such as for agricultural land or residential developments
  • Setting up a floating solar plant is a much faster and easier process. The process of land acquisition for developing a plant is often prolonged and complicated. Additionally, the installation itself takes longer to deploy as geotechnical studies and foundations are required for sub-surface conditions. Not having to do a large land installation is beneficial to soil and water conservation efforts.
  • A power plant on the surface of a water body results in reduced evaporation, which can be vital in areas where water is a scarce resource. This is a significant advantage to a water-scarce country like South Africa
  • The combination of hydropower and solar power plants is a cost-effective strategy for allocating new PV plants. Hydropower generation is increased by reduced evaporation, which has been a major challenge in these plants. Floating solar PV can increase the capacity factor of a hydropower plant by 50- 100%.
  • A floating solar power plant can generate more electricity than traditional ground-mounted and rooftop systems, about 7-14% more. This is because the water has a cooling effect, which reduces the operating temperature and increases the solar panel efficiency. Another possible contributor to the increased output is that there is less settled dust on the PV modules.
  • Floating plants can improve the quality of water by creating a sunlight barrier that prevents the photosynthesis and growth of algae in water bodies.
  • The cost of the solar mounting system is greatly reduced in a floating setup compared with land-based systems that require steel sub-structures and often concreted foundations.
  • It is much easier to wash the plant and its components in a floating system. Additionally, the large volumes of cleaning water used in a floating are reused, leading to operational & maintenance cost savings.
  • Floating PV plants are compatible with aquaculture and can be set up on an aquaculture reservoir or a fish pond, which benefits aquatic production.
  • Floating PV plants are attractive and can bolster the scenery and touristic appeal of an area.

Floating solar PV plants open up a world of possibility because they can be set up on any water bodies and greatly increase the solar power generation capacity. While the advantages of the floating system are numerous, large scale rollout does present its own unique set of challenges.

Strong winds can hamper floating PV panels. The mooring system must be strong enough to resist these. Stronger supports are being developed to address this challenge. In the long-term, further research will have to be done on the ecological impact on affected water bodies. Where saltwater is used, the damage from this must be evaluated. Finally, more information must be disseminated about the installation and maintenance of floating plants as well as best practices. As mentioned, a best practice guide is already in development, which is good news for the Southern African solar PV industry in the middle to long term.

floating solar

Source: Saur Energy


The Opportunity in Southern Africa

While the application of floating PV plants is fairly new, it continues to grow internationally. Many benefits can be achieved by adopting this technology in Southern Africa. In many parts of the country, water shortages and scarcity have affected normal living, especially in drought-affected areas like the Western Cape in South Africa. Floating power plants can be combined with water reservoirs to reduce evaporation losses.

Innovative solutions for the electricity generation challenges in the nation are always needed. Making using of the floating plant systems can scale up the rollout of solar PV and improve the output of hydropower stations. Floating plants are also a quicker route than the land acquisition channel, and they free up land for agriculture and other uses.


Contact Us

Contact the Zero Point Energy team to see how best we can help you make the move to reliable, renewable and self-sufficient energy.

Landline: +2710 593 4449 | Whatsapp: +27605218388 | info@zpenergy.co.za | TW & IG: @zeropointSA | www.zpenergy.co.za

Zero Point Energy (Pty) Ltd is a proudly South African sustainable engineering company that provides professional engineering consulting & turn-key solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, off-grid and energy storage solutions, water efficiency and responsible waste management. The company is a 100% black youth-owned, 30% black female-owned company achieving a Level 1 BBBEE Contributor status, and has a passion to transform the energy industry without compromising on safety, quality and client satisfaction.  Learn more about the company’s team here

makda houghton - IG

12.5kWp Grid-Tied Solar PV Project – Houghton Estate

The ZPE team recently concluded a 12.5kW grid-tie roof-top solar PV installation for a client in Houghton Estate, JHB. The system will generate up to 60 kWhrs/units of electricity per day using top tier solar panels that have 25 year performance warranties.

The system consists of a dual-phase inverter system with remote monitoring capability, and designed to maximise solar PV consumption during daytime when electricity consumption is high at this premises. Any excess solar is planned to feed back into the City Power utility grid.


#solar #solarenergy #renewableenergy #sustainability

tesla powerwall2 zero point energy

Zero Point Energy now a Tesla Powerwall 2 Certified Installer in South Africa

The Team at Zero Point Energy is excited to announce that we have recently been vetted, trained and accredited by Tesla as a Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer for South Africa.

You can rely on Powerwall to reduce your reliance on the grid and to power your home with renewable energy that you control.

With increased Eskom load shedding and electricity tariff increases, combined with solar PV and battery technology improvements and cost reductions, there is no better time to consider solar and energy storage for your home!

Utilise our free online Tesla Powerwall 2 system sizer to get an indicative cost here , or contact us at teslapowerwall@zpenergy.co.za for any technical or pricing queries.

#energystorage #solarpv #renewableenergy #tesla #powerwall2 #batterystorage #lithiumion #southafrica


How can we save energy, jobs and costs in Southern Africa post COVID-19?

How can we save energy, jobs and costs in Southern Africa post COVID-19?

The current COVID-19 global pandemic will have far-reaching effects on economies and livelihoods all over the world for a long time to come. As South Africa gradually enters a post-lockdown period, bold and drastically different solutions will be needed to reboot the economy. The power supply challenges of yesterday are not yet behind us, and a shift is required in how we approach power generation and renewable energy. Various sustainability projects can be implemented at a national, local, commercial, and residential level to ease some of the current burdens on resources as we move into a post-COVID-19 South Africa.

covid-19 africa

Source: Center for Global Development

Impact of the Pandemic

The novel coronavirus has affected the entire nation, with thousands already infected by the disease. The government, aided by the health sector, is doing all that it can to contain the virus. Measures such as a national lockdown and social distancing, while necessary, make it anything but business as usual.

Looking at the economic impact of the crisis, millions have been affected as their livelihoods were forced to a grinding halt. Many people are now working from home, but for many others, this is not an option. Job layoffs and a rising unemployment rate both during and after the lockdown are expected, with an estimated 1.5 million South African jobs at risk.

For many companies and industries, the crisis has led to a slow-down in output, financial constraints, and business continuity challenges. On the power generation front, a decrease in electricity demand of 7 500MW- 9 000MW during the lockdown period, means that Eskom has been able to provide uninterrupted power. The national power utility has also indicated they are using the opportunity to conduct important maintenance work to its infrastructure. That said, once industries fully resume their operations, the challenge of insufficient power production will once again impact the nation—a nation trying to find its feet after this unprecedented health and economic crisis.

Solutions from Sustainability Projects

Implementing small and large scale sustainability projects could be one way to boost economic recovery and build resilience. These projects span across solar power generation, water efficiency, and other renewable energy deployments.

The International Renewable Energy Agency believes that investments in renewable energy could not only address the climate change dilemma but yield significant economic benefits that could also play a part in the transition to a post-COVID-19 economy.

According to the agency’s director, Francesco La Camera:

By accelerating renewables and making the energy transition an integral part of the wider recovery, governments can achieve multiple economic and social objectives in the pursuit of a resilient future that leaves nobody behind.”

In the next sections, some of the specific solutions we can expect from sustainability initiatives are explored in further depth.

Local Employment Creation

Many people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and national lockdown. There’s no telling how many jobs will be resumed as things slowly move back to normal. The disease outbreak has also accelerated the use of technology and automation as a further unintended consequence. This, too, could lead to permanent job losses.

The renewable energy industry in South Africa is still relatively new. There is a tremendous opportunity for growth and investment. The country has a very high solar power capacity. The Department of Energy and Renewable Energy  Independent Power Producers (REIPPs) are already in the process of rolling out 27 renewable energy independent power producer projects.  These include solar farms as well as wind farms. Therefore, sustainability projects open many new job opportunities for people who have lost their livelihoods to transition into and acquire the required skills and training.

solar pv utility scale africa

Source: Environmental News South Africa

Localised Energy Production

Once power demand returns to normal levels, the national grid will once again be under a lot of pressure. Localised power generation allows businesses and residences to have some degree of self-reliance. Solar PV solutions are perfectly suited to power daytime consumption of businesses, and even powering evening loads with the aid of battery power storage. This independence from the main power supplier allows businesses and individuals to carry on their operations even in the middle of power shortages, lockdowns, and other unforeseen challenges.

There is another crucial benefit to localized power generation. As this industry grows and import bottlenecks and foreign exchange pressures weigh in,  there will be greater emphasis placed on local equipment manufacturing. This will reduce our reliance on imports, boost local industry, and create local jobs. All these factors will give the economy some much-needed stimulation. For this long-term vision to be a reality, a combined effort is required from all sectors, including research and development partners, technology hubs, and government, whose support will be key.

Cost Saving and Financial Benefits

Solar PV, energy efficiency, and other related alternate energy projects have proven high returns on investment. More than ever, in the current COVID-19 economic climate, investing in solar PV is sure to beat any current money market or equities investments in the short to medium-term. These investments pay for themselves in a few years, and the electricity generated is cheaper and cleaner. There are also additional savings for businesses and residences because of the minimal operational expenses, which free up much-needed cash for other running costs, both now and in the long-term.

Environmental Benefits

nature sustainability

Source: Biz Community

Sustainability is all about balancing resources with current needs in a manner that does not negatively impact future generations. This happens on an environmental level, but also has economic and social ramifications.

Solar power is a valuable renewable source of energy, which we are yet to maximize fully. The alternatives, such as coal and oil, release harmful emissions into the environment. Besides solar, other renewable sources of energy are wind and water.

While global industrial production has declined in many sectors in the last few months, pollution and industrial emissions are likely to have also gone down. This has provided an opportunity to reflect on the impact human beings have on the earth and how we can change our ways, moving forward.

Another aspect of sustainability is managing current resources. Water efficiency measures can stop huge water losses at all levels. All these sustainability projects aim to find alternatives solutions and strategies to minimize man’s impact on the environment.


While it won’t be an easy road to navigate a post-COVID-19 South Africa, the government, private sector, and individuals can look to sustainability projects to provide some real, long-lasting solutions. Now is the time to invest in infrastructure and systems that can withstand power supply fluctuations, boost the local economy, create jobs, all while reducing the adverse effects on the environment.


Contact Us

Feel free to contact us to see how best we can offer our sustainability engineering expertise to help you:

+27605218388 | info@zpenergy.co.za | @zeropointSA | www.zpenergy.co.za

Zero Point Energy (Pty) Ltd is a proudly South African sustainable engineering company that provides professional engineering consulting & turn-key solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, off-grid and energy storage solutions, water efficiency and responsible waste management. The company is a 100% black youth-owned, 30% black female-owned company achieving a Level 1 BBBEE Contributor status, and has a passion to transform the energy industry without compromising on safety, quality and client satisfaction.  Learn more about the company’s team here


Renewable Solar PV Energy in Commercial FMCG sector

What should you expect from your Renewable Energy and Solar PV service provider?

Zero Point Energy empowers Cash & Carry with Renewable Solar PV Energy and saves a client over R18 000 per month

Zero Point Energy successfully concluded a 75kW solar PV grid-tied roof-top project for a retail business in Crown Mines, Johannesburg at the beginning of December 2019.

A business of this nature is an extremely busy space and requires efficient day-to-day running. Minimal to no complications are standard for a business like this to truly benefit. An appropriate system (such as this one) will produce over 10 000 kWhrs or units of electricity per month, with the client’s monthly saving’s expected to be over R18 000 per month immediately.tier 1

Renewable solar PV energy reduces 120 tons of CO2 emissions

This business’s electricity-savings translate into a reduction of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by 120 tons annually due to offsetting Eskom coal power supply.

A great success due to electricity requirements being met using clean, quiet and renewable energy. Municipal electricity will only be used during night-time and inclement weather because of modern, solar PV technology.

Figure 1: tier 1 mounted solar panels

Financial Benefits of solar pv

This business is expected to save R20 000 per month during 2020 and R23 000 during 2021.

A further financial benefit to the client is the SARS Section 12B 1-year accelerated depreciation allowance for commercial solar PV projects.

Ultimately, the client will save a further 28% on the capital cost of the project using that allowance. This kind of saving can only occur because of specific engineering design processes and best practices.

Read further to understand the process a professional and relevant RE service provider should execute.

What Zero Point Energy offered

The investment would pay itself off in 3.5 years because they used the following:

  • tier 1 solar panels
  • mounting structures on North facing roof section
  • inverters
  • mounting structures and inverter warranties and guaranteed performance set at minimum 20, 10 and 5 years.
  • Professionally designed engineering system.
  • Industry-leading equipment and protection.
  • Integration of Solar PV with the business’s existing diesel generator.

Zero point Energy offered the above so that day time load shedding consumption of diesel is kept low while solar provides the majority of power.

The best part is, the professionally designed system saves the business further on their operational costs.

Figure 2: The completed electrical scope of the project including inverter, energy manager, DC and AC protection and 3-phase interconnection.

Design Process

  • Step one: Determine the client’s needs and energy usage.
  • Step two: Design cost-effective tailored professional solution.
  • Step three: Install and commission to best industry standards.

Zero point Energy was responsible for the engineering design, planning and project management of the entire turn-key project. This included supplier logistics, roof-work, substation work, site storage, outage planning, installation, testing and commissioning of the system.

Figure 3: Drone footage of solar panel roof installation. (Photo courtesy of Caracal Energy)

Installation Process

The installation of these systems requires detailed planning and well-executed project management. Relevant assessments are crucial for not just the safety of all workers on site but for future maintenance requirements. Therefore, structural engineers need to be registered professionals.

To ensure installation runs smoothly remember your service provider needs to offer an industry-leading solar simulation software. It is also imperative that the service provider has experience not just with engineering design but within the construction industry too. All international best practices as well as national and local standards, regulations relating to DC and AC protection, earthing and electrical compliance has to be ensured.


A remote monitoring system should be installed for both the client and our operational team can monitor performance at any time from anywhere in the world via the internet and a mobile app.

A grid limiting system is installed so that excess power cannot feed into the municipal network. Lastly, electrical & mechanical certificates compliance (CoC) are issued to provide clients with peace of mind on the installation quality.



Figure 4: Roof mounted Solar Panel installation  (Photo courtesy of Caracal Energy)


When investing in a RE Solar PV solution a business owner requires appropriate financial benefits. Reaping the financial benefits of RE Solar PV solutions start with high-end quality products and professionally registered engineers.

Great planning, communication and on-site co-ordination from an experienced service provider are very important to the longevity and professional quality of Renewable Energy Solar PV systems.

Contact the Zero Point Energy team to assist you with a review and analysis of your FMCG business. We will gladly assist you on your journey towards more sustainable and affordable energy management that will save you money in the immediate and long term. We are confident that our experienced team and proven solution offering will assist you to achieve guaranteed results.

www.zpenergy.co.za info@zpenergy.co.za @zeropointsa +27605218388 +27721500467

#FMCG #renewableenergy #solarPV #solarpower #energysaving #eskom #sustainability #greenenergy #commercialbuildings #energymanagement #opex #engineering #design #electricalengineering #energyusage


FMCG solar PV commercial  project 4

75kW Commercial Grid-tied solar PV Project – Crown Mines


Executed a turn-key EPC project to assess, design,  engineer, procure, install and commission a 75kW solar PV grid-tied project for a busy commercial client in th efast moving commercial goods (FMCG) industry. The project included a flush-mount IBR roof mounting solution, installation of new roof access cat ladders and lifelines, as well as a complete solar PV solution that integrates into the client’s 400V electrical distribution system. System also integrated with diesel generator to ensure optimal performance during load shedding thereby further reducing fuel spend.

Location: Crown Mines, Gauteng

Technology: 75kW Tier 1 solar panels, 1x 60kW grid-tied 3-phase inverter, energy management & remote monitoring system

Completion: November 2019