floating solar panels


How floating solar panels work

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Floating solar panels, sometimes called floatovoltaics, are just solar panels floating on water. However, there’s a lot more to it than just floating solar panels.

Here’s a quick rundown of how floating solar panels work, their pros and cons, their environmental impact, and some well-known sites.

How Floating Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, and floating solar panels do that, but afloat. They are usually on buoyant platforms interconnected to form long chains and nets to maintain distance so the solar panels don’t collide and explode.

They don’t actually explode, but you wouldn’t want your solar panels colliding at the slightest turbulence.
There are other more interesting upgrades.

1. Buoyant Foundations

You need floating structures to install floating solar panels, which is quite obvious. And these things are linked and anchored to the floor sometimes.

All they can do is bob up and down, getting bombarded by photons all day. So they’re also made of stuff that doesn’t easily disintegrate in sunlight, obviously releasing toxic microplastics into the water.

2. Solar Cells

Nothing different there, however, an effort is underway to upgrade floatovoltaics to absorb more sunlight, with higher efficiency, most probably will see the usage of perovskite solar cells, or TOPcon Technology.

What are they anyway? We could go deeper into the subject of futuristic solar panels.

3. Mounting Structures

Floating solar panels have specialized mounting structures built to withstand a tsunami if scaled down to a normal wave. Either way, these mounts can withstand enough to maintain the structural integrity of photovoltaics.

4. Environmental Impact

A groundbreaking idea has an earth-shattering environmental impact. Floating solar farms enforce water conservation, shading fishes from sunburn, stopping algae growth, and reducing evaporation.

However, floating solar farms also release microplastics into the water (we just mentioned it), and provide shade for aquatic plants, which sort of starves them.

Scientists are trying to find the right balance and research into newer technologies that may reduce the negative impact someday.

Famously Known Floating Solar Farms

1. Huainan, China

The biggest floating solar farm on the entire planet is situated in Huainan. With almost 4,000 acres of collapsed coal mines, it produces enormous clean energy.

2. Kruonis Reservoir, Lithuania

The Kruonis Reservoir features a floating solar plant producing electricity. To highlight the two advantages of floating solar installations, it additionally helps stop algae development in the water.

3. Yamakura Dam, Japan

The Yamakura Dam is a floating solar power plant which is in Japan. This solar power plant helps the country’s attempts to boost its utilization of renewable energy sources.

4. Gemasolar-CSP, Spain

The Gemasolar Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant in Spain is special compared to other floating solar plants. The floating molten-salt receiver is at the center of its unique design.

Pros & Cons of Floating Solar Panels

Space Optimization clears out more space for land structures.Installation Costs are slightly higher
Reduced Evaporation and reinforced water conservationMaintenance Challenges since they’re out of reach
Improved Efficiency, and auto cooled by the water.Negative Environmental Impacts, and Release of Microplastics
Dual-Purpose Functionality can integrate hydroelectricsWeather Vulnerability (Not Tsunami or Storm Resistant)
Flexibility in Installation, covering bodies of waterWater Use Restrictions means no more jet skiing or fishing.

Investments and future expansion efforts for floatovoltaic farms are underway, and new projects are springing up all around in Asia, slowly spreading to Europe.

While the future unfolds for the solar panel industry, all we can do is prepare for the tsunami of change that brings more floatovoltaics, rather than uproot them from their peaceful watery abode.

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