There are a number of benefits to floating solar plants, aka “floatovoltaics.” Compared to mounted panels, floating systems are naturally cooled by the bodies of water they sit on, therefore boosting power production efficiency. Many floating PV developers point out that the floatovoltaics shade the water, which reduces water evaporation and slow algae blooms.
“The efficiencies are what motivated us to look at this,” Rajesh Nellore, the chief executive of Infratech Industries, told the New York Times.
The Sydney-based company erected a floating solar system in Jamestown, South Australia that claims to generate 57 percent more energy than rooftop panels.
The plant floats on a wastewater facility in Jamestown and is the first part of a larger system that will cover five basins, the company says on its website. The system consists of raft supporting standard photovoltaic panels, which are specially coated to prevent corrosion, due to their close proximity to water.
Another plus of floating arrays is how it makes use of unused space. In the UK, a 6.3 megawatt floating solar project consisting of 23,000 solar panels sits on Walton-on-Thames’ Queen Elizabeth II reservoir, an area that isn’t used for any other purpose, The Guardian reported. The £6 million (about $8 million) project will help power local water treatment plants that provide clean drinking water to London and south-east England’s 10 million residents.
The company behind Japan’s massive solar plant, Kyocera TCL Solar, started construction in January this year and explained why floatovoltaics are ideal.
“With the decrease in tracts of land suitable for utility-scale solar power plants in Japan due to the rapid implementation of solar power, Kyocera TCL Solar has been developing floating solar power plants since 2014, which utilize Japan’s abundant water surfaces of reservoirs for agricultural and flood-control purposes,” the company said in a press release.