Normally, floating solar panels would get filed under “geeky and improbable.” But the project is 100% legitimate. And in addition to the clean energy that it generates, this floating solar installation offers some pretty impressive benefits, including:
- Optimal use of limited real estate. The panels are installed on water treatment facilities – instead of on farmland or other developed areas.
- Better clean energy generation. PV technology works best at lower temperatures. Because this installation is situated on water, the entire system runs a little bit cooler.
- Less evaporation. The panels help to trap moisture that might otherwise evaporate. Although this is not as important for a place like Japan, it could prove very useful in more arid climates.
We weren’t surprised when Japan first announced this project. After all, this is the same country that proposed coupling lasers with space-based PV panels.
But it looks like floating PV installations will soon come to California.
Does Our State Really Need Floating Solar Panels?
Sonoma County will be one of the first regions in California to adopt floating solar technology.
Sonoma Clean Power is poised to install 12.5 MW of solar technology on treated sewage ponds and reservoirs operated by the local Water Agency. Once completed, these panels will generate enough clean electricity to power 3,000 homes.
But why does California even need solar panels that float?
One of the main motivations is space.
Finding room for larger solar PV installations is challenging. Even developing mega solar farms in the desert requires displacing endangered species and destroying natural habitats.
Building solar panels over sewage treatment areas is a perfect fit. After all, the space underneath has very little commercial value, and no additional area needs to be developed.
As an added bonus, the panels help reduce evaporation. Given California’s record droughts, this is a huge benefit.
But we need projects like this for another reason as well.
They help prove that solar is a scalable technology that fits anywhere and everywhere. That’s why we advocate installing solar on every square meter of developed space in the state. Not just rooftops, but also highways,building façades, and even vehicles.
There is so much sunshine that hits our planet every hour – clean, infinite, and renewable energy that doesn’t pollute. We should be taking advantage of every single watt that we can – until we’re able to cover all of our electricity needs.
If your commercial or residential property doesn’t already have solar panels installed, you’re missing out. Not only can solar help you slash your utility bill, but it can also reduce your carbon footprint.