Solar panels continue to pop up all over the United States, and increasingly generating the energy of the nation. Solar energy production once restricted to land is now advancing its way to water. New research has brought floating solar farms to center stage in the renewable energy conversation.
Floating photovoltaic panels, also known as “floatovoltaics,” have the potential to generate large amounts of electricity over manmade bodies of water. Floatovoltaics could provide power without taking up valuable real estate.
Today only approximately one hundred floating solar farms systems exist around the world. The placement interest of floatovoltaics would be on reservoirs with nearby electric transmission lines. An example of a potential body of water would be manmade and near hydroelectric power.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory says the production efficiency of solar panels could potentially increase over water. The study shows that the natural cooling effects of water blow solar panels can boost the solar panels power production by twenty-two percent. Research also found that floatovoltaics could limit the amount of water lost through evaporation. This would help prevent harmful algae blooms from growing.
The future of floatovoltaics will remain unknown until more there is more research into the technology. The greatest limitation of floating photovoltaic panels will be the unexplored effects, such as the long term performance and impacts on local wildlife.
Source: Adam M. Pringle, R.M. Handler, J.M. Pearce,
Aquavoltaics: Synergies for dual use of water area for solar photovoltaic electricity generation and aquaculture,
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 80, 2017, Pages 572-584, ISSN 1364-0321, Click here to access article