Although relatively new to the Australian market, floating solar has been making waves in Asia and Europe where lack of space means installing a roof-top or ground-mounted system is either not practical or possible.
Also known as solar islands, floating solar is exactly what you might expect – it is an array of Photovoltaic (PV) panels installed on a structure that floats on a large expanse of water, such as a lake or reservoir. What you might not expect, are the following 5 facts about floating solar…
1. Improved panel performance
Solar panel performance can decline with high temperatures. The cooling effect of the water reduces the temperature of the panels, meaning they can produce a higher electricity yield than a land-based solution. One study showed a 7% performance gain over a typical roof-top installation.
2. Less water evaporation
A study by the University of Southern Queensland estimated that nearly half of water stored in reservoirs/dams is lost due to evaporation. With water such a valuable and scarce recourse the agricultural and farming space is especially looking for all options that can preserve water resources. Floating solar naturally causes shade over the body of water it covers, keeping the water cooler, resulting in less evaporation.
3. Improved quality of water
Too much algae growth in water sources can not only reduce the quality of the water, but it can also prove problematic in commercial situations where filters can get clogged and cause equipment to fail. Floating solar can additionally be used to help restrict the amount of algae growth that naturally occurs in large expanses of fresh water.
4. Conserves valuable land
By taking to the water, a landowner can reap the benefits of solar without having to use or alter valuable land space. Across the word, floating solar has successfully been utilised where land is at a premium. A winery in the Napa Valley region of California decided to install a floating solar island, having worked out that it would have to sacrifice 2 acres of vineyard to accommodate enough solar panels to offset its energy costs. In countries such as Japan with high population density and competing uses for available land, floating solar has really taken off as a way to boost solar energy production – the country’s many inland lakes and reservoirs are now home to 73 of the world’s 100 largest floating solar plants.
5. Australia’s biggest floating solar system
Suntrix has won a couple of awards for its floating solar installation at East Lismore’s Sewage Treatment Plant – the biggest in the country at the time. Using modular, purpose built floating technology, the 100kW system consisted of 280 solar panels and 1200 floating devices. It is estimated that the solar island will produce around 11% of the site’s energy needs, creating a saving of $24,000 per annum.
Want to know more?
If you want to find out more about whether a floating solar solution might be right for your business, call us on 1300 884 898 or complete our online inquiry form. Our floating solar experts will be happy to answer any questions you might have.