In a recent article posted on GreenBiz.com, author RP Siegel examines the growing popularity of floating solar arrays. As populations and developments continue to rise, land space is becoming more and more difficult to come by, however the need for more sources of renewable energy continues to go up. One answer to this problem is floating solar - solar collectors are being placed over bodies of water, which not only help collect energy from the sun, but also have been shown to increase efficiency of solar panels and reduce water evaporation.
We have previously blogged about the floating solar arrays in Sonoma County California, currently the largest project of its kind in the United States. Solar panels have been placed above several wastewater ponds and generate around 12.5 MW of electricity, (enough to power 3,000 homes.) Geof Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power, says in regards to the project, "The advantage to us is we’re in a community that values open space and farmland. We have solar on land, but this helps deploy more renewable energy and cut emissions without using farmland for our systems.”
image courtesy: SolarChoice.net
Overseas, numerous large-scale floating solar projects are also in the works. India’s largest hydroelectric company, National Hydro Power Corporation, is planning a massive 50 MW project in the southern state of Kerala, only to be overshadowed by a 70 MW floating solar project in Japan that will combine thousands of modules of solar panels floating over ponds. In Brazil, a huge, 350 MW floating solar plant has been planned for the Amazon. Even more impressive, Sunflower Solar Power Plant in South Korea boasts a whopping 465 MW of floating solar power.
In addition to realizing the benefit of reducing water evaporation, all of these project developers have the common goal of increasing panel efficiency by keeping the panels cool:
“The ecology of the water body is not likely to be affected much and it will also reduce evaporation, thus helping preserve water levels during extreme summer. Solar panels installed on land face reduction of yield as the ground heats up. When such panels are installed on a floating platform, the heating problem is solved to a great extent," National Hydro Power Corporation developers.
For even more information on the growing popularity of floating solar panels and data on the current projects in our country and around the world, read Seigel's article.