Solar energy is expanding yet again
From solar curtains, clothes, panels and window films we now have floating solar farms.
If you think about it, it makes sense that floating photovoltaic systems would first emerge in population-dense Japan. While the United States soon followed with a commercial installation atop a reservoir near a California winery in 2008. Although, it was China who began really driving the floating solar farm growth. As of now, China has the largest floating solar farm in the world, concentrated in Anhui Province atop flooded former coal mines.
Floating solar farms benefits
Many experts recommend to install photovoltaic panels on reservoirs and other water bodies to get better benefits. For instance, they offer greater efficiency than traditional solar panels, and take less space.
The installation costs of floating photovoltaic panels are less than land-based photovoltaic panels. Furthermore, the power production of floating solar panels is greater by up to 10% due to the cooling effect of water.
Additionally, the floating solar farms reduce the loss of water to evaporation, prevent algae production, and lower water treatment costs.
So, what is the market potential of floating solar farms? Because there are more than 400,000 square kilometers of man-made reservoirs in the world, which the World Bank report says could support at least 400 gigawatts of sun-powered energy, it is, well huge. (Currently, only about 1.1 gigawatts worth of floating solar panels have been installed around the planet.) Put another way, the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that installing floating solar photovoltaics on the more than 24,000 man-made U.S. reservoirs could eventually generate about 10% of the country’s annual electricity production.
The floating solar industry was valued at $800 million in 2016 with an expectation of $2 billion by 2025. That’s some serious potential!
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