One of the main drawbacks of major solar projects is that they require huge areas of land in which solar fields can be constructed. Take the Desertec Initiative project for example — it is projected that vast areas of the Sahara Desert are going to be needed in order to construct enough solar panels to power North African (and possibly European) cities. However an Israeli company called Solaris Synergy has developed a solar solution that could open up a vast surface area to gather energy – the sea.

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Over three-quarters of the world’s surface is covered by water, and as the world’s population continues to expand, available land will become an increasingly scarce resource. It makes sense to want to install solar panels where they will be out of the way — it has worked for wind turbines after all. With that in mind, Solaris Synergy has announced plans to build a large-scale floating concentrated photovoltaic array on open water. The company has already designed and built a 1KW unit that can float, but they hope to build something a lot bigger.

Of course, floating solar panels and PV systems on water is not a foolproof idea. After all, maintenance and repair is automatically made twice as difficult as engineers would have to travel to the panels by boat to perform routine maintenance. There are also the concerns regarding concentration levels, and whether they would be affected by the rocking of waves. If this is the case, do we install the panels at sea or on calmer lakes? And what impact would they have on the environment, considering there have been stories about solar panels harming local ecology?

Solaris Synergy have made an effort to address some of these arguments by improving the solar device’s design, drawing on complaints from people who complained about fields of solar panels as well as biologists, who have written about how flies and other insects are drawn to them. The idea has already won an award at the Clean Tech Open IDEAS Competition, and the team is now developing a 200 kW system in an Israeli water reservoir that will be installed later this year. Only time will tell if the concept is taken up by solar companies though.

+ Solaris Synergy

Via Green Optimistic