Solar panels floating, revolutionize global electricity supply.

By Oliver Townsend Jun 6, 2024
Floating solar panels could revolutionise global electricity supply.jpegOrginal image from:

Floating solar panels have the potential to revolutionize the global electricity supply, according to new research conducted by experts from Bangor and Lancaster Universities and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. This study highlights the vast possibilities of using floating solar photovoltaic panels (FPV) on lakes and reservoirs worldwide.

The Potential of Floating Solar Photovoltaic Panels

The study estimated the daily electrical output of FPV across nearly 68,000 lakes and reservoirs, focusing on water bodies near population centers and not in protected areas. The calculations were based on FPV covering 10% of the water surface, up to a maximum of 30 square kilometers. The results indicated that FPV could generate 1,302 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity annually, which is four times the UK’s total yearly electricity demand.

Environmental Impact and Benefits

Dr. Iestyn Woolway, the lead author of the study, emphasized the importance of understanding the environmental impact of FPV. While the potential gains in energy generation are clear, more research is needed to determine how floating panels might affect natural lake ecosystems under various conditions. FPV installations offer advantages over land-based solar farms, including freeing up land for other uses, maintaining cooler panel temperatures, and reducing water loss through evaporation.

Country-Specific Findings

The study revealed promising country-specific findings. Nations like Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, and Rwanda could potentially meet their entire electricity needs with FPV. Countries such as Bolivia and Tonga could come close to fulfilling 87% and 92% of their electricity demands, respectively. Many countries across Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and Central Asia could meet a significant portion of their electricity needs through FPV. In Europe, Finland could cover 17% of its demand, while Denmark could meet 7%.

Global Potential and Future Sustainability

Professor Alona Armstrong, a co-author of the study, highlighted the global potential of FPV installations. Strategic deployment of FPV around the world could significantly contribute to a sustainable energy future, considering factors like energy security, environmental impact, and societal implications. With proper planning and implementation, FPV has the capacity to play a crucial role in advancing towards a more sustainable energy landscape.

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