Floating solar panels are becoming increasingly popular across the globe. Due to urbanisation, land availability is becoming a challenge. For this purpose, the water surface is considered to be the source of utilising floating solar panels. According to NASA, acquiring land for energy is expensive, and utilising it to develop solar farms can cause conflict with farmers, conservationists, and other organisations. In this regard, floating solar farms are considered a viable alternative. They are solar panels on the surface of lakes, reservoirs, industrial ponds, and near-coastal locations known as floating photovoltaic systems, or photovoltaics for short.
Floating solar panels are a critical technology for decarbonising economies by 2050 (NASA, 2022). According to research published in Nature, floating solar panels can cover 10% of the world’s hydroelectric reservoirs and provide as much electricity as all of the world’s fossil fuel power plants combined, i.e. 4,000 gigatonnes. Such technology is essential to meet growing global energy demands. Floating solar offers numerous advantages over land-based, including increased efficiency through cooling, reduced evaporation and algal growth, and the financial and ecological benefits of facility installation and protecting undeveloped land.
Due to the increasing energy demand, renewable energy is considered crucial for a sustainable future. In this regard, floating solar panels are key contributors to this demand. Floating solar provides immense benefits, including water conservation and protection, preservation of valuable land space, higher yield & performance, lower costs, and rapid ROI. This is a transformative innovation as it enables drastically lower transportation and installation costs.
Several countries have adopted this technology to meet their energy demand considering the benefits of floating solar panels. For instance, South Korea is building the world’s largest floating solar power plant. According to the energy industry news site Power Technology, the project on the Saemangeum tidal flats on South Korea’s west coast would create 2.1 gigatonnes of electricity, enough to power one million households. Similarly, the largest floating solar farm in Europe is located in Portugal. It floats atop Europe’s largest manmade lake, the Alqueva reservoir, and provides around one-third of the electricity required by local communities. The floating solar farm is the size of four football fields and features 12,000 solar panels.
Furthermore, several other countries like India and Singapore have also invested in floating solars. In the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, a 600-megawatt floating solar energy facility is being developed near the Omkareshwar Dam on the Narmada River. Another 1 gigatonne floating solar power project is apparently in the works for Madhya Pradesh’s Indira Sagar dam. Similarly, Singapore is working on its biggest floating solar power farms, comprising 122,000 panels on Tengeh Reservoir that will produce enough electricity to run its five water treatment plants.
Pakistan is also working on providing a floating solar energy facility to meet its energy demand. In this regard, a floating solar energy project has been planned in Keenjhar lake that will be launched soon. This will be the first unique floating solar power plant project in Pakistan. It will provide 500 MW of environmentally friendly electricity and create employment opportunities in the province.