Floating solar is more than panels on a platform—it’s hydroelectric’s symbiont

Two people working on a floating solar installation

Enlarge / A view of the
new floating solar farm being grid connected on Godley Reservoir in
Hyde, on February 10, 2016 in Manchester, England. (credit: Ashley
Cooper / Barcroft Media / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

A total of 1.1 gigawatts (GW) of solar have been installed
around the world as of September, according to
a new report
by the World Bank (PDF). That’s similar to the
amount of traditional solar panel capacity that had been installed
around the world in the year 2000, the report says. The World Bank
expects that, like traditional solar 18 years ago, we’re likely to
see an explosion of floating solar over the next two decades.

That’s because floating solar is not simply “solar panels on
water.” Solar panels prevent algae growth in dammed areas, and they
inhibit evaporation from occurring in hotter climates. (According
Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
, major
lakes in the southwestern US like Lake Mead and Lake Powell can
lose more than 800,000 acre-feet of water to evaporation per year,
and the adorably-described “floatovoltaics” could prevent up to 90
percent of that evaporation.”) Additionally, floating solar avoids
taking up space on land that is priced at a premium. In Northern
California, for example, a floating solar installation was added to
a nearby reservoir because the land around it was better used for
growing grapes.

Another benefit of floating solar is that ground doesn’t have to
be leveled before the plant is installed. Usually, fixed-tilt
panels are attached to a floating platform that’s moored to the
bottom of the reservoir. Most systems send electricity through
floating inverters, although in some smaller installations the
inverters are situated on land.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Floating solar is more than panels on a platform—it’s hydroelectric’s symbiont