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Floating Solar Advantages and Disadvantages

Jessica PirroAugust 9, 201936442

Every rooftop isn’t going to be suitable for solar panels - factors such as shade, obstructions, age, and available space can have homeowners looking for other locations for solar panel installations.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Floating Solar Panels

When it comes to the large-scale solar power project, the most common alternatives to rooftop solar-powered systems include ground mount solar panels or solar canopies. But there’s a newer alternative that has been making a big splash in the solar power industry: floating solar panels.

How Do Floating Solar Panels Work?  

Floating solar panels, also known as floating photovoltaic (FPV), are any kind of solar panels that float on water. Solar panels need to affix to a structure that will keep them above the surface. If you come across floating solar panel installations, it will most likely be located in a lake or a basin because the waters are generally calmer in the ocean. It is also common that floating solar panel installations will be located on large man-made bodies of water, such as reservoirs.

Floating solar panels are a relatively new concept. The first patent for this type of solar technology was registered in 2008. Since then, the floating solar panels have predominately been installed in countries like China, Japan as well as the U.K.

The Advantages of Floating Solar Panels

Floating solar panels aren’t just a cool solar panel installation, there are a few advantages that come with floating solar panel installations.  

Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy

It is a known fact that there are some major environmental benefits when it comes to solar energy, and floating solar panels certainly will play a role in contributing to the environmental benefits of solar energy. With floating solar panel installations, the water doesn’t only have a cooling effect on the solar-powered systems, it works the other way as well. The floating solar panel installation provides shade to the body of water and reduces the evaporation from these ponds, reservoirs, and the lakes. This is a particularly useful environmental benefit of solar energy in areas that are more susceptible to droughts, as water loss due to evaporation and can add up over time and contribute to a shortage.

The shade that the floating solar panels produce can help reduce the presence of algae that blooms in the freshwater. The algae can be a little dangerous for human health if they occur in a source of the drinking water, and it can also lead to the death of plants and animals that live in the water.  

The floating solar planes are a clean source of renewable energy. The use of sources of renewable energy technologies helps decrease the emission of greenhouse gas emissions and all of the other pollutants that they put in the atmosphere, leaving a positive impact on the environment as well as human health.

No Loss of Valuable Land Space

One of the biggest advantages of floating solar panels is the solar panel installations don’t require any land space. Most of these solar panel installations can take unused space on bodies of water, such as hydroelectric dam reservoirs, wastewater treatment ponds, or drinking water reservoirs. This will allow the landowners to make use of an area that wouldn’t otherwise be used, and rather than getting a solar panel installation in sunny land that could potentially serve another purpose down the line. In addition, getting installing solar panels out on open water reduces the need for tree removal and forest clearing which is a practice that is used in the case of solar of the larger solar panel installations.

Increased Efficiency of a Solar Panel

Solar Panels are durable and can perform under high temperatures. But same as other electronics, with higher temperatures, come with decreased power outputs. The efficiency of a solar panel tends to decrease as the temperatures rise, which can be concerning for property owners who are looking to get a solar panel installation in a hot and sunny climate. The bodies of water that host the floating solar panels will help the solar-powered systems cool down, which means that the floating solar panel installation will increase the efficiency of a solar panel in the hot climates than they otherwise would.   

Cons of Floating Solar Panels

There are tons of advantages to floating solar panels there are some disadvantages to solar power technology.

Cost of Solar Panels that Float

A floating solar panel installation might require additional costs than more traditional solar panel installations. Because this is a relatively new solar power technology it requires specialized solar power equipment and more niche solar panel installation knowledge, it will typically require a higher price tag than installing a similar-sized solar power farm on a rooftop, or solid ground. But just like with more traditional solar-powered systems, the costs of getting a floating solar panel installation are expecting to drop as the technology advances.

Applications

Floating solar panel installation isn’t going to work for just anyone. The majority of floating solar panels are large-scaled and provide solar power for utility companies, large communities, companies, or municipalities. If you are interested in getting solar power for your home, it would make a lot more sense to get a rooftop solar panel installation or get ground mount solar panels. Those who are investing in a floating solar panel installation will often have access to a large body of water to fit hundreds or even thousands of solar panels. Residential solar panel installation will typically have around 20 solar panels because they are only providing power for one home. The solar panel installation companies and the developers that are installations floating solar panels aren’t doing small-scale solar panel installations.

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