Floating solar panels on reservoirs have several benefits - including powering the world, new study finds.
The world’s 115,000 reservoirs hold the potential for a clean energy revolution. Floating photovoltaic systems, known as 'floatovoltaics', have the significant additional benefits of reducing evaporation by shading the water, as well as preserving land for other uses.
An international team of scientists calculated that 30 percent coverage of global reservoirs could produce more than twice the energy demand of the entire US annually. And, due to prevention of evaporation, it would also save enough water to serve 300 million people every year. What's more, water serves as a heat sink for the panels, increasing their lifetime. What ever way it's considered, it's a win win all round.
The authors also found that the U.S. is particularly suited to using floatovoltaics due to the huge number of reservoirs - 26,000 of them. Covering just 30 percent of them with floating solar panels, the team calculated, would generate 1,900 terawatt hours of energy while also preventing the loss of 5.5 trillion gallons of water. The team notes that floatovoltaics can also be used on canals and ponds.
And because many reservoirs already support hydroelectric plants, routing the electricity produced by floatovoltaics is a relatively inexpensive proposition.
The research was detailed in a study, titled ‘Energy production and water savings from floating solar photovoltaics on global reservoirs’, in the journal Nature Sustainability.
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