Most of us are familiar with the massive solar panel farms popping up in various sun-drenched regions of the world, but few stop to think about the problem that arises when figuring out where to find the space to put new solar
panel farms. Issues with environmental conservation are brought to bear, and many solar projects are put on hold or fold completely due to such issues. However, a partnership between Israeli and French energy companies has found the solution.
Israeli company Solaris Synergy
and the French EDF Group
have collaborated to create the floating solar panel. The panels are designed to sit atop the water, using the water to cool the modules, which helps increase the efficiency of the silicon solar cells. The modules each produce up to 200 kW of power, using mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays on slender photovoltaic panels. They are specially designed to be breathable, allowing oxygen to reach the water below so not to adversely affect the plant and animal life living in the water beneath.
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The floating solar panel will likely be used in industrial water basins—commonly used for agricultural irrigation and to cool power plants. Solaris Synergy and the EDF Group are in the testing phase of the floating solar panels, and are launching a 9-month demonstration of the technology at a southeastern France hydroelectric facility. The companies hope to launch the floating solar panels for commercial sale by 2012.
The floating solar panel could address the growing problem of finding space for solar farms. Industrial water basins serve little purpose other than their intended utility, and placing a few thousand solar panels on top could resolve environmental issues in regard to using land space for solar panels.