Team proposes floating solar panels

Posted by Emma Woollacott

One of the biggest problems with large-scale solar power is the vast amount of land area required. Deserts such as the Sahara have been suggested, but a team from Israel's Solaris Synergy and France's EDF Group have another idea - put them on the water.

The team will test its system later this year at Cadarache, in the South East of France, using the water surface of a local hydro-electric facility. The team believes that by next June, it should be ready for commercialization.

"Today, each country must consider the best resources it has in order to produce clean energy. For example: hydroelectric power is good where there are waterfalls, geothermic is productive for countries with thermal springs and solar power is very efficient where there is sun," says Dr Elyakim Kassel, coordinator of the Aquasun project.

"Our system could be of great use in places that are exposed to sun, but not necessarily have sufficient natural water. Even dry countries, such as Israel or the North African countries, have industrial waters that are not rain dependent. This fact makes the floating solar power plant a reliable method for them to produce renewable energy."

Kassel says he's not proposing using natural reserves, tourist resorts or open sea; rather, he says, industrial water basins already in use for other purposes.

"It's a win-win situation, since there are many water reservoirs with energy, industrial or agricultural uses that are open for energy production use," he says.

The team claims that there's little effect on the environment. The solar panels allow oxygen to penetrate, making sure there's anough for the plant and animal life beneath.