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Solar Industry Considers Floating Panels

By agedleadstore
Solar Industry Considers Floating Panels Feature Image
3 minute read

Solar industry experts are seeking new ways to install solar panels — and looking beyond solid surfaces.

Solar panels are most commonly installed on roofs and plots of land, but can be installed anywhere with a solid anchor. This means that with the right anchor, they can float on water. 

Floating solar panels have been around for over a decade, but only recently have started to gain popularity.

If a solar panel is attached to a plastic float, it can drift on a body of water.

Since the effects of floating panels on plant and animal species is currently unknown, the panels generally are only placed on man-made bodies of water, such as a water treatment facility or irrigation reservoir.

For example, the largest floating solar farm in the U.S. currently is on a wastewater pond in California.

Only 2 percent of this year’s new solar installations are on water, but the industry is expected to grow significantly in the next 10 years.

Experts are studying the potential effects of floating panels on the environment, and whether the plastic floats could break down over time and affect the water.

However, experts have found that when panels are placed on man-made bodies of water where animals have moved in, they are quickly adapting.

For example, a bird may stand on the plastic float while hunting for fish, or an otter will use them to hide.

The panels also may be able to shield water from unwanted evaporation and the algae blooms that kill fish and other living organisms.

Experts say floating solar is helpful when there’s no more room on the land, but it also could work more efficiently on water because of the natural cooling effect.

According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, floating solar could potentially make the panels 15 percent more efficient, which boosts the amount of power they can produce.

Experts also are exploring the potential for floating solar on the ocean. 

A Singapore-based provider already is actively studying this technology in areas where the panels are protected from the harshness of the open sea.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that if floating solar and hydroelectricity were combined, they could generate 16 to 40 percent of the world’s total electricity demand.

Overall, experts believe floating solar has significant potential, in combination with land solar, to boost solar power usage worldwide and reduce the reliance on fossil fuels.Experts suggest solar installers work to educate consumers on the benefits of solar, and how the panels could work for their home or business.

Photo by Vivint Solar from Pexels

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