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Quantifying the Value of Foam-Based Flexible Floating Solar Photovoltaic Systems

This thesis investigates using a flexible crystalline silicon-based FPV module backed with foam, which is less expensive than conventional pontoon-based FPV. This novel form of FPV is tested experimentally for operating temperature and performance and is analyzed for water-savings using an evaporation calculation. The results show that the foam-backed FPV had a lower operating temperature than conventional pontoon-based FPV, and thus a 3.5% higher energy output per unit power. A case study of Lake Mead found that if 10% of the lake was covered with foam-backed FPV, there would be enough water conserved and electricity generated to service Las Vegas and Reno combined. At 50% coverage, the foam-backed FPV would provide over 127 TWh of clean solar electricity and 633.22 million m3 of water savings.