Floating solar farms: Will they work?

10 mins

Supplying electricity to a country primarily made up of islands is rigorous and demanding. F...

Mane Energy Team

By Mane Energy Team

Supplying electricity to a country primarily made up of islands is rigorous and demanding. For example, Indonesia is made up of more than 10,000 islands, leaving millions without electricity.

One solution being looked into is to offer solar power to these islands, to provide them with electricity. A positive about solar power is that it’s become much cheaper in recent years, and may in fact become the cheapest option for new electricity power plants in coming years.

What is a solar farm?

Solar farms could be the solution to finding a power source for small remote islands. These farms could even be placed far out at sea where they could serve as refuelling points for electric ships.

Floating solar panel farms are already being used on various sites around the world. The only difference is that they're used on lakes, not the ocean.

Why aren’t they already being used on the ocean? The answer is simple: waves can cause damage to solar panels, preventing them from working properly.

Will solar farms work?

So, what is the solution? Research is underway to find ways of keeping solar panels intact and working on rough water.

Scientists are looking into ways of installing solar panels on the ocean surface so that they can provide power to those living onshore nearby. This will be extremely useful for those Indonesians living without electricity. There just needs to be a way of preventing waves from damaging the panels.

Dutch-Norwegian company SolarDuck is currently working with German energy company RWE to build a floating solar plant at a North Sea wind farm. The company claims that it will be the biggest offshore floating solar plant in the world, with the capacity to power a few hundred homes.

This plant is due to be operational in 2026, and its solar panels will sit on platforms raised a few metres above the ocean’s surface. This could be the answer to powering electricity across thousands of islands. Only time will tell.

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