How is Growing Need for Clean Energy Generation Resulting in Increasing Usage of Floating Solar Panels?
Using solar power is an eco-friendly way of catering to the requirement of energy across the world. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are among the primary renewable energy-based power generation technologies. The solar panels are installed on free land or on rooftops. However, a major drawback of these solar PV systems is that they occupy large land area and various parts of the world do not have such kind of space where these systems can be installed, thereby restricting the deployment of solar PV systems on a large scale. But now with the emergence of the floating solar panel technology, these problems can be taken care of easily. Floating solar panel makes use of water surface for installation of solar panels, therefore, floating solar power plants can be installed on lakes, reservoirs, ponds, rivers, and sea.
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The floating solar panels have various advantages over land-mounted solar panels, such as increased efficiency because of the cooling effect of water and evaporation control. Apart from this, the installation of these systems requires no heavy equipment or tools, the construction materials utilized are recyclable, and evaporation control saves water which can be utilized for irrigation and drinking. Because of all these advantages, various governments across the world have initiated different schemes and projects for the promotion and encouragement of using technologies, such as floating solar panel, for generating renewable energy. Various countries, including the U.S., France, Japan, the U.K., Brazil, and India, have started focusing on developing floating solar power plants. Moreover, some of these countries are even providing tax benefits and subsidies to the solar panel manufacturers. There are two types of floating solar panels, namely solar-tracking floating solar panels and stationary floating solar panels. Among these, the stationary floating solar panels were more popular.
Among all the major regions, including Asia-Pacific (APAC), North America, and Europe, APAC witnessed the highest adoption of floating solar panels. This was due to the heavy investment made by the key solar panel manufacturers for developing floating solar panels and the increased support provided by governments for floating solar power projects. For example, in April 2015, the construction of two mega floating solar power plants was completed at Higashihira Pond and Nishihira Pond in Kato City, Hyogo Perfecture, Japan. These plants are designed to produce 3,300 megawatt hours of electricity per year.
Some major factors that are resulting in the rising adoption of floating solar panels are higher efficiency of power generation, strict environmental regulations and rising government initiatives, and as mentioned above, no requirement for the acquisition of large land areas. The surging depletion of fossil fuels and the environmental degradation that has occurred because of their use has resulted in the shift of the global interest from conventional energy resources to green energy resources. Hence, due to these factors, the adoption of floating solar panels is further expected to increase in the coming years.