Nowadays, people are very concerned about the environment because everyone wants to protect the planet earth and its resources. To do this, people are using many different ways such as recycling and buying organic products, etc. But one of the most effective ways to save the environment is by using solar energy.
Solar energy is a source of power that is used by people all around the world as using solar energy helps in providing electricity to homes, industries, offices, etc. If you wish to use this power, then all you need to do is install solar panels. However, the question is which solar panel? Have you heard about floating solar panels? Do you want to know all about floating solar panels?
While there are many different types of solar cells the most common form is the Photovoltaic (PV) cell which uses the photoelectric effect to generate electricity.
The photovoltaic cells are generally made into panels that can be attached to rooftops or buildings by which they can also be used to power boats, cars, and other devices that use the photoelectric effect to generate electricity. The electricity is then transmitted to a central station, where it is stored and used to power homes and businesses.
In 2013, PV solar panels generated around 4.2% of global electricity. That figure was 4.3% in 2014. This percentage increased to 6% by 2020. The US and Canada had the highest percentage of the total PV market share with an 18% market share in 2015.
Today, solar cells have been modified to be used in water. If you live near lakes, rivers, and oceans you can opt for the new technology of floating solar panels also called Floating Photovoltaic Panels (FPV) or Floating Solar Panels (FSP). The FSP is a great way to harness the power of the sun. Let’s discuss what history is and from where this all started.
History Of Floating Solar Panels
The United States, Denmark, France, Italy, and Japan were the first to file patents for FSP technology. In Italy, the first patent regarding FSP in the water goes back to February 2008.
Since 2010, about 4,200 FSPs power plants have been installed around the world. These plants can provide electricity to a total of 2 million homes and have created at least 60,000 new jobs. By 2020, these plants covered more than 20,000 hectares of the world’s oceans.
In 2012, the first FSP that was able to float on the sea was installed in Bavaria and Thiele. These are the FSP power plants in the world. It has been stated that Bavaria can produce electricity for three hours of the day.
The Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation Ontario, CANADA (MIRARCO) group quote several solutions that were offered between 2008 to 2014 to implement this new technology in renewable energy.
New Technology in Renewable Energy
The concept of FSP is entirely new and the technology is still in its infancy stage. They have great potential and can be used in the future to produce energy. The production of solar panels is already booming.
FSP can be used to generate electricity at sea or in lakes and rivers. A floating solar energy system is not very common now, but it is becoming more and more popular in the future. Floating solar energy plants provide an alternative to power systems that are not environmentally friendly.
Since 2016, the market for this renewable energy technology has expanded quickly. Between 2007 and 2013, the first 20 plants, each with a few dozen kWh of capacity, were constructed.
Installed power reached 3 GW in 2020. These types of solar energy plants are expected to provide up to 10 GW of power by 2025. The price of solar energy has decreased in recent years. This has helped many countries to increase their investment in floating solar power plants. However, the cost of these FPVP power plants is higher 20 to 25% higher than that of ground-based plants.
A 45 MW combined solar and hydropower project was completed in Thailand and recently and a Beijing-based power company Huaneng Power International (HPI) completed the world’s largest FPVP project in Dezhou, which is in Shandong, an eastern Chinese province on the Yell Sea.
The 320-megawatt floating solar farm is the largest in the world. It’s located in Zhejiang province and has been providing renewable energy to the local community.
However, HPI won’t be able to maintain the title for very long as a 600-MW floating solar farm is expected to come online in Madhya Pradesh, India, by 2023.
A floating solar power plant in Dubai is currently being constructed. It will have an installed capacity of 8500 kW with 1250 photovoltaic solar panels of 5 kilowatts each and a height of 6 meters. The solar panels will be arranged on 20,000 square meters of glass floats to reduce shading effects.
FPVPs are one of the most promising technologies for providing solar power on a large scale. The advantages of a floating solar system include a low impact on the environment, high efficiency, the ability to collect energy in cloudy periods, and an unlimited supply of water.
What Is A Floating Solar Panel?
A floating photovoltaic panel consists of a solar cell that is attached to a buoyant material or pontoon. The buoyant material can be polyethylene foam, polystyrene, or a similar material. The FSP is anchored to the water by a cable that has a hook on one end and the other end of the cable is attached to the buoyant material.
The FSP are installed on a body of water such as a lake, river or sea. The FSP absorbs sunlight, and the energy from the sun is stored in the batteries. When the batteries are full, the solar panel is disconnected from the buoyant material and moved to a land-based storage facility.
Parts Of Floating Solar Panels
The FSP is more stable and has a longer lifespan than solar panels that are attached to the ground. The solar panels are only connected to a float that carries them. In other words, they have a buoyant design.
The First FSP: The first floating solar panels that were developed were made from polyethylene foam. These panels were inefficient, and they had to be replaced frequently.
In recent years, manufacturers have been adding additional materials to the cells, making them even more efficient. Manufacturers then started using polystyrene as the buoyant material. Floating solar panels made from polystyrene have since improved greatly.
The FSP Consist Of Two Main Parts: the solar cells and the floating substrate. The floating substrate holds the solar cells in place and supports the solar panel above the surface of the water. In addition, other components such as frame, glass, solar cells, thermal insulator, hot fluid outlet and cold fluid inlet are also used in making FPVP.
These components make FSP more durable and more stable than conventional solar panels. The FSP can be made with different materials depending on their intended usage.
The FSP Power Plant: These plants include the vertical and horizontal frame structure, buoyancy body structure, inspection footrest, and module mount assembly. There are several other components such as internal insulation, insulation panels, and a cover.
These solar panels are designed to withstand high winds and rough weather. They are also resistant to corrosion and vandalism. In addition, they are very efficient and can last for years. Floating solar panels come in different sizes and shapes to suit the application and installation requirements.
How Do Floating Solar Panels Work?
The FSP are devices that are attached to an underwater buoy to create electricity. These panels are used to solve the problems of electricity shortage as it is a renewable source of power and the demand for this technology is increasing day by day.
An FSP system is a device that produces electricity by using the photovoltaic effect in the water. The panels float on the surface of a body of water such as a lake, a pond, or a river. When the sun shines, the FSP generates electricity. Solar panels placed on a floating panel are connected together in series and parallel to form a single energy generation unit as the size of a single panel is about 2 meters by 2 meters and can produce between 0.6 and 5 watts per square meter.
In order to maximize the efficiency of the panels, different types of solar panels are developed. A concentrated panel is used to maximize the output of the energy, while a flat panel uses the entire surface area of the panel. Both types of panels can generate more energy and cost less.
Types Of Floating Solar Panels
There are various types of floating solar panels. These include the following:
Floating Glass Panel
Almost every solar panel that is installed needs glass. The glass sheets used to cover solar cells are durable, non-reactive, extremely strong, and most importantly, transparent. Glass, therefore, performs far better than any other material used to make FSP.
Usually, tempered glass is used to make floating panels that are six times stronger than regular plate glass and can withstand the elements.
Floating Aluminum Panel
The FSP are made of aluminum because they are strong and durable. Aluminum can also withstand extreme weather conditions such as intense heat and humidity. The solar panels are only connected to a float that carries them.
Floating Steel Panel
These panels come in various sizes and shapes. You can even find floating solar panels made from polystyrene. Polystyrene has a low density so it floats very easily.
Types Of Installation Modules
The majority of the installations fall into three classes:
- Modules installed on pontoons make up FPV plants
- FPV modules installed on rafts made of galvanized steel and polypropylene
- FPV modules that are completely plastic and installed on rafts
Difference Between Floating Solar Panels And Traditional Solar Panels
Traditional solar panels have been used for years and it has worked well for the average household whereas FPV solar panels are genuinely new innovations. The first FPV array was introduced in Japan in 2007.
They are similar to traditional solar panels in that they are made up of sheets of metal that sit on the ground and collect light. However, the difference is that they are attached to pontoons. Pontoons can be made of concrete, rubber, or plastic like polyethylene. They float on water and thus they are much lighter than land-based solar panels.
Floating solar panels have recently become a popular alternative to traditional ones. They have proved to be a more efficient, and energy-saving solution. These panels are very easy to install. The reason why they are easier to install is that they do not have to be stuck into the ground or on the roof.
The most obvious difference between floating solar panels and traditional solar panels is the fact that they do not have to be connected to the ground. This makes it a great option for those who live near the beach. Because of the proximity of the ocean, the FSP is able to receive a large amount of sun.
Most importantly, they do not require special construction as traditional ones do for as long as you have a sunny and clear environment where water is available, you can easily put in these panels as they can be installed anywhere. Most people install them in lakes, ponds, rivers, and even oceans and one of the biggest advantages of floating solar panels is that they can provide power for up to 20 years without maintenance which is something that traditional panels cannot do.
The FSP is not as heavy as traditional panels. These panels are attached to the pontoons by a cable. They are designed to move with the movement of the water, and they will change positions in the wind, like leaves.
The FSP is considered to be the most effective and efficient way to produce electricity therefore floating solar panels are mainly used for power generation in the open sea and for hydropower projects. In addition, FSP can be installed in coastal areas too, and is considered to be the best solution.
However, they are not the cheapest option for everyone. For those who are interested in floating solar and arrays, it would be a better idea to consider and calculate before installing the panels.
Use Of Floating Solar Panels In The Today’s World
Solar power is considered the cleanest form of energy. This is because it does not emit any type of harmful gas and is mainly the reason why governments are encouraging the use of solar power. The FSP uses solar power to generate electricity and it is the first technology that uses a combination of solar panels and the concept of floating to create electricity.
Asia in general and South East Asia specifically have been faster to embrace FSP solar panels, and the biggest FSP ranch, worked by the French Organization Ciel and Terre, is in China.
Many FPV solar panel ranches are in Southeast Asia as a result of the somewhat little accessibility of dry land there.
Floating solar panels can provide a reliable source of energy on a long-term basis and they can also be used for small-scale electricity generation and water desalination. An FSP generates power for about 30 years before it needs to be replaced.
Recently, the number of floating solar panels has increased significantly in the world. These panels are becoming increasingly popular because they provide a great opportunity for local communities to generate electricity in an environmentally friendly manner.
Some countries in the world, such as China, India, Japan, and South Korea have been much quicker to develop floating solar panels than other regions. One of the reasons why they have been successful in doing so is that they have taken advantage of new and emerging technologies.
The FSP can be made in many different ways, and they come in various sizes, depending on the energy needs of each community. A typical FSP can be as large as one acre, and a 10-acre can generate enough energy to power around 200 homes. The largest FSP used today is located in China. These panels were installed by the French organization Ciel and Terre. These panels can be found on both the land and water and have generated a lot of attention. Because of the rapid growth in FSP, several countries have been focusing their attention on how they can use these floating solar panels. The U.S. government has been investing in this technology to understand the technical potential and benefits of FSP.
Study Of Technical Potential of Floating Photovoltaics in the United States
The FSP has a large potential in the future. As time goes on, floating solar will become cheaper as more and more countries will look into implementing it as an energy option.
According to the studies of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) FPV systems have great potential in the United States. There are about 24,419 man-made water bodies in the United States and the total size of these water bodies is 6.75 million acres. If we assume that the total energy needs of the U.S. are about 100 quadrillion BTU, this means that the water bodies in the country are capable of supplying about 100 billion watts of electricity. Even though the study only focused on water bodies of the right size, this shows how many water bodies can provide us with energy. If just one-tenth of these water bodies were to be covered in FPV systems, we can expect to generate about 10% of the total energy needs of the U.S.
Far Niente Winery in California was introduced in 2007 and turned into the primary business-scale floating power plant. With a complete limit of 400 kW exhibit comprising of 1,000 floating panels that give 177 kW, combined with 1,300 ground-mounted modules, the plant delivered sufficient energy to easily run the entire winery.
Recently, a floating solar installation on Big Muddy Lake is an example of how floating solar is used effectively in a military environment. It is the first floating solar array to be deployed by the Department of Defense. The panels will generate enough energy to power about 190 homes according to Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
The world’s largest floating solar installation, also in New Jersey, by NJR Clean Energy Ventures (CEV) has started construction on an 8.9-MW installation. The floating array will be the biggest in the country. On a reservoir of the New Jersey American Water Canoe Brook Water Treatment Plant, 16,510 solar panels will be erected. The clean power generated by the array will provide approximately 95% of the facility’s annual power needs. It will be sold back to the grid under a power purchase agreement with the city.
The 4.4-megawatt floating solar array in Sayreville, New Jersey is unusual because it is built over the town’s drinking water treatment center. The goal of installing a floating solar panel array was to reduce electricity bills while saving land.
The installation was a bit of trial and error, but it inspired the current largest floating solar panel array in Sayreville, NJ. With solar panels, you can keep the water cool and reduce the amount of algae growth and evaporation by shading it from the direct sun.
The Advantages Of Floating Solar Panels
There are several advantages of using floating solar panels instead of using a traditional solar panel system. Some of them are as follows:
The FSP can help to clean up the environment because they can be submerged in polluted areas like oceans. They don’t have any negative effects on the environment because they release no gases or chemicals into the atmosphere. The panels only store energy. They also help to generate electricity from the sun. The panels are suitable for a wide range of temperatures.
Effect On pH Level Of Water.
The FSP provides clean, renewable electricity that can help communities that rely heavily on fossil fuels and coal-fired power plants. The energy that is produced by FSP does not affect the temperature or pH levels of the water. In fact, it can be used to purify water by removing undesirable chemicals.
Built To Survive Extreme Weather Conditions
The FSPs have improved greatly. They are built to survive extreme weather conditions. The material they are made of is strong enough for them to withstand the impact of waves, wind, and rain. Most of the time, solar panels are attached to the ground. This makes them more susceptible to erosion. The panels can be damaged or destroyed by these harsh forces.
A Great Option To Save Valuable Land
The FSP Systems are perfect to create electricity in places where you don’t have access to valuable land. These systems are created by connecting the land to the sea using large-scale solar panels. These systems float on the water and generate enough energy to power cities and villages for hundreds of years hence they are an excellent way to save valuable land that you might need for agriculture or building projects.
Beneficial For People In Remote Areas
The FSP systems are ideal for powering remote communities with renewable energy, especially in developing countries. Most of the communities in these areas are small and are situated along rivers. It is estimated that, in order to meet the annual demand for electricity for one person, one needs to produce an average of two kilowatts of power per day. Floating PV can help to provide this amount of electricity to these remote communities. It is also a great option for rural people, farmers, and fishers.
Reliable Source Of Power
With the FSPs, you can have a reliable source of power for the whole year. These panels will give you a steady supply of energy throughout the year. They are ideal for people who live in remote areas or on the coast. They are also good for farms, schools, and other buildings that require constant electricity. They can be used to provide all of the power you need.
Disadvantages of Floating Solar Panels
Floating solar panels are a very efficient way to generate energy. However, they have some disadvantages that you need to know about before you install them.
High Cost Of Installation
But there are also drawbacks to floating solar panels. The biggest drawback is the cost of installation. Floating solar panels are expensive and can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000. But when you consider the long-term benefits of having solar power in your home, the price is worth it.
The downside to floating solar is that it is more expensive than traditional solar panels. Floating solar panels are usually made from glass, which is expensive, and they have to be installed by a professional.
Extreme Weather Conditions
One of the major issues with current floating solar systems is that the wind can interfere with the panels. Wind currents can move the panels, and the panels may also become loose. Therefore, some of these panels can be damaged.
But all these systems cannot be used in places where the weather conditions are not ideal for it. They may not be a good option for homes that are in an area where flooding, hurricane, tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods are a major concern.
Not Suitable For Everyone
Floating solar panels provide large amounts of power, and they work best when placed in areas that receive a lot of sunlight. Large-scale floating solar installations are used to generate large amounts of power, and they supply electricity to communities, companies, or utility companies.
If you want to get power from the sun, you should consider choosing rooftop installation or ground-mounted solar.
Affecting Marine Life
It is important to note that these solar panels will not cause any harm to the environment or to any wildlife. It will only make the water warmer, but it will affect marine life.
This could cause a problem for the fish and other aquatic life in the area. Fish need sunlight to breathe and grow. If they are deprived of sunlight, they will die.
Additionally, the panels and the tools used to secure them may endanger animals who are unaware of them or detract from their habitat by taking up space. However, this issue will not arise when these FPV systems are installed on man-made ponds and lakes.
Is Floating Solar Power System a Viable Option For Homeowners?
A floating solar power system is not a viable option for homeowners unless you live in an area where there’s a lot of sunshine, and you have access to your own lake or pond, floating solar power systems are the best choice. It’s easy to install floating solar panels because they’re designed for use in freshwater environments.
If you have a rooftop area that gets lots of sunshine, you should consider installing a fixed rooftop solar panel system. The main benefits of both types of energy include sustainability, cost efficiency, and the ability to generate energy at the point of consumption.