German developer BayWa r.e. via its Austrian unit ECOwind and local energy supplier EVN have built central Europe’s largest floating PV array in Austria.

The 25MW plant in Grafenwörth in the state of Lower Austria covers an area of 14 hectares on two artificial lakes of a former sand and gravel pit. It will produce 26,700MWh of green power per year and be able to supply about 7,500 households.

Floating PV “creates a new function for otherwise unused water surfaces”, said Benedikt Ortmann, global director of solar projects at BayWa r.e.

“With this turnkey floating-PV project, we have brought incremental improvements to our already cutting-edge systems in the Netherlands.”

The developer together with its Dutch subsidiary GroenLeven has already built three floating solar projects in the Netherlands, two of which are also the largest outside Asia. Worldwide, BayWa r.e. has installed 15 floating PV projects with a combined capacity of 230MW.

To ensure the integration of the Grafenwörth project into the surrounding ecosystem, the companies will carry out research on the fish population and examine the local dragonfly fauna regularly over several years.

“In Grafenwörth, the challenge was to drive approval procedures and regulations for this new PV application in Austria and to ensure a safe construction – which we managed even with a level difference of seven metres between the mounting surface and the water,” ECOwind managing director Johann Janker said.

“Besides being quickly installed and easy to maintain, floating-PV also has the benefit of a higher electricity yield thanks to the cooling effect of water – making the application a very attractive prospect to landowners of unused water bodies.”