How floating solar panels in reservoirs could revolutionize global electricity supply

Floating solar panels on reservoirs could produce three times as much electricity as the entire EU, a new study has shown.

solar panels are one of the cheapest and most efficient ways of generating electricity, but they also take up a lot of space.

Innovative systems have led to them being placed at parking lots, landfills and farms. Now researchers are urging governments to invest in floating solar.

according to a learn published in the journal Nature, covering 30 percent of the surface of the world’s 115,000 reservoirs with solar energy could generate 9,434 terawatt hours Performance yearly.

That’s more than triple Energy production in the EUwhich reached 2,785.44 terawatt hours in 2021.

How do floating solar panels work?

To reach net zerocountries must invest in renewable energies.

According to a 2021 study, countries may need to spend between 0.5 and 5 percent of their land area on solar panels to fully achieve this decarbonize. Solar power may be far better for the planet than natural gas — but it uses about 70 times as much land per unit of energy.

When space is at a premium, planners can come into conflict with farmers, local authorities and conservationists.

Floating solar could offer a solution.

They are like normal “photovoltaic” cells that generate electricity from sunlight. The only difference is that they float on pontoons – earning them the nickname “Floatovoltaics”.

Solar needs a stable, non-shaded water surface – irrigation canals, quarry ponds or reservoirs are ideal.

The first float voltaic system was installed in 2008. The Dezhou Dingzhuang Floating Solar Farm in China is the largest facility in the world and covers almost 600 hectares.

Solar energy is great for the planet – but it takes up a lot of space. – Canvas

What is the potential of floating solar?

Less than 1 percent of the world’s solar arrays are currently floating — but they have “huge potential,” according to the study in Nature.

“Considering the proximity of most reservoirs to population centers and the potential to develop dedicated local energy systems, we find that 6,256 communities and/or cities in 124 countries, including 154 metropolitan areas, could be self-sufficient with local FPV (floating photovoltaic) systems” , write the authors.

Floating solar could also prevent water loss through evaporation. According to the study, installing that much solar energy would save enough water to power 300 million people a year.

What are the environmental benefits of solar?

As the world is heating upit is becoming increasingly important to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

According to the GLOBAL Carbon project, we still have 380 billion tons of CO2 in the global carbon budget.

That’s the amount of carbon dioxide we can release and still have a 50 percent chance of avoiding 1.5 degrees of warming.

2022, carbon emissions reached a all-time high of 36.8 billion tons.

But it’s not all bad news. Countries are also putting money into renewable energy. In 2022, wind and solar produced a fifth of the electricity in the EU – the first time that clean energy sources produced more electricity than fossil gas.

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