Why floating solar plants can revolutionize global energy

The installation of floating solar plants can give a new impetus to the production of clean energy.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
15 March 2023 Wednesday 06:26
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Why floating solar plants can revolutionize global energy

The installation of floating solar plants can give a new impetus to the production of clean energy. These floating photovoltaic (FPV) systems would partially solve the problem of the amount of surface area that traditional ground-mounted solar systems require and also, according to a study published in Nature Sustainability, they could generate up to 9,434 terawatt hours of energy per year.

This maximum production would be reached, according to the same study, if 30% of the surface of the world's 115,000 reservoirs were covered, without considering whether this is feasible or if it would generate other types of conservation problems for those spaces.

If these figures were achieved, that would mean the energy autonomy of several cities. “Considering the proximity of most reservoirs to population centers and the potential to develop dedicated local power systems, we found that 6,256 communities and/or cities in 124 countries, including 154 metropolises, could be self-sufficient with FPV plants. locals," say the scientists who wrote the study.

The advantages of installing floating solar plants would not end there. According to this study, this type of facility could also prevent water loss through evaporation. According to their findings, installing that much solar power would save enough water to power three hundred million people a year.

These scientists also conclude that on-reservoir FPVs are advantageous over traditional ground-mounted solar systems in terms of soil conservation, improved efficiency, and reduced water loss.

The researchers believe the study was imperative, following increasing global energy use and the adoption of sustainability targets to limit carbon emissions with strong demand for clean energy, including solar.

Despite their results, the authors also acknowledge that additional studies are needed to assess the possible long-term consequences of this system, which would surely have consequences with the reduction of solar radiation that would reach the water below the plates.

Spain is also taking steps in this direction. After the public exhibition of the Royal Decree that regulates the installation of floating photovoltaic plants, the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Miteco) talks that these infrastructures will mean "a boost to the capacity of electricity generation from renewable sources, something fundamental to accelerate the energy transition and reduce the vulnerability of our country to exceptional situations like the one we are experiencing today”, referring to energy dependence and the war in Ukraine.

In addition, defends the Miteco, it will facilitate the achievement of the objectives included in the Law on climate change and energy transition, which plans to reach a 42% penetration of renewable energies in final consumption and an electrical system with 74% renewable generation for 2030.

"This floating solar capacity will be added to the energy produced by the hydroelectric power plants and will allow the production of the facilities to be increased and the evacuation infrastructure to be optimized," they say from the ministry headed by Teresa Ribera.