Floating solar is a solar power installation that floats upon a body of water. The solar panels are placed on a relatively calm body of water, such as ponds, lakes, or man-made reservoirs. The main float is constructed of high-density thermoplastic (HDPE) and is set at a 12 degree angle to support a standard 60 Cell PV solar module. A secondary non-slip HDPE float is then used to link the main floats together and provide a platform for maintenance and added buoyancy. The first patents for this type of technology were registered in 2008. The system is easy to install and dismantle, can be adapted to any electrical configuration, is scalable from low to high power generation, and requires no tools or heavy equipment.
Floating solar installations have begun to spread throughout Australia, Europe, China, Japan, and South Asia. By the end of 2017, 250 MW of floating solar panels was installed globally and this is expected to grow to around 10 GW by 2030. Floating solar is particularly well suited to Asia, where land is scarce. China, for example, has already built the world’s largest solar floating farm. It floats on a manmade lake in the Anhui province and it is capable of producing 40 MW of power.
With the rising demand for floating solar, the industry will definitely be more open to exploring this growing technology as well as other innovations that will come soon. These innovations are making solar panels more affordable and efficient as compared before. Opting for floating solar, for instance, will entail a lesser cost to install since it requires little material per kilowatt of electricity produced and there will be no need to clear land or treat soil. Some critics though have been saying that it may harm marine ecosystems by blocking sunlight and it is vulnerable to bad weather.
According to an article published on Forbes, 2019 will be floating solar’s breakout year. The solar industry has now indeed shifted from the most basic solar projects to more advanced and large systems that are innovating solar energy generation. Just by looking at the numbers, it’s clear that floating solar is a technology that has gotten the interest of people all over the globe. Not only is it an advancement that will help the solar industry move forward, but also address the concern of needing more solar energy amidst the scarcity of land.