Floating solar panels can power entire countries, new research reveals.

By Oliver Townsend Jun 4, 2024
Some countries could meet their total electricity needs from floating solar panels, research shows.jpegOrginal image from: https://techxplore.com/news/2024-06-countries-total-electricity-solar-panels.html

Floating solar panels have emerged as a promising solution to meet the electricity needs of various countries worldwide. Recent research has highlighted the potential of floating solar photovoltaic panels to supply all the electricity requirements of certain nations. This innovative approach involves deploying low-carbon floating solar arrays on lakes and reservoirs, utilizing available climate data for each location.

Global Potential of Floating Solar Panels

Researchers from Bangor and Lancaster Universities, along with the UK Center for Ecology & Hydrology, conducted a study to assess the global capacity for implementing floating solar technology. By analyzing nearly 68,000 lakes and reservoirs, the researchers determined the daily electrical output achievable through floating photovoltaics (FPVs). The calculations considered various factors such as proximity to population centers, absence of protected areas, and minimal seasonal limitations.

Advantages of Floating Solar Panels

Floating solar panels offer several advantages over traditional land-based installations. Not only do they optimize land use, but they also improve panel efficiency by maintaining cooler temperatures. Additionally, these FPVs can potentially reduce water loss through evaporation and mitigate issues like algal blooms, contributing to environmental conservation.

Potential Environmental Impact

While the energy generation benefits of FPVs are evident, researchers emphasize the need for further investigation into their ecological implications. Understanding how floating panels interact with natural lake ecosystems under varying conditions is crucial for safe adoption of this technology. The study recommends careful consideration of water body functions and ecological impacts before widespread deployment.

Country-Specific Electricity Generation

When evaluated on a country-by-country basis, the research revealed that some nations could fulfill their entire electricity demands through FPVs. Countries like Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, and Rwanda could potentially achieve complete energy sufficiency with this technology. Moreover, several other regions could meet a significant portion of their electricity needs, showcasing the diverse applications of floating solar panels.

Implications for the UK

The study also examined the UK’s capacity for electricity generation using floating solar panels. While the UK could produce a substantial amount of electricity from FPVs, the current installations remain limited. By strategically deploying floating solar technology, countries like the UK can enhance energy security, promote sustainability, and contribute to their Net Zero goals.

Strategic Deployment for Sustainable Development

Co-authors of the study stress the importance of strategic deployment of FPVs to ensure positive outcomes for energy security, environmental preservation, and societal well-being. By harnessing the potential of floating solar panels, countries can advance their renewable energy agendas and work towards achieving a more sustainable future.

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