Utilising the Incessant Solar Energy to Human Advantage
Humans and nature are inextricably coupled - it underpins our economy, our society, indeed our very existence. Since ages, humans have been possessing the knowledge of how to best exploit the nature to reap of maximum benefits. Humans have explored atmosphere, heat, soil, water, and sunlight to their advantage. However, the sun has been the most crucial natural resource for the life on earth. The use of solar energy for electricity generation has been around for several decades and the way of application still continues to evolve on the back of technology intervention. With the world emphasizing green energy alternatives to meet sustainability targets set for 2050, the preference for clean fuel power generation is on a constant rise. The market for floating solar panels is thus witnessing an impressive growth outlook banking on its key advantages. As their installations do not require massive land spaces and the overall projects are cost-effective, floating solar panels are expected to witness notable demand during the forecast period. Floating solar panel projects can even be set up on unused spaces on water bodies, which will remain the top advantageous factor driving the growth of the floating solar panels market.
Solar Energy Technology Capturing Global Interests, Pushing Prospects of Floating Solar Panels Market
According to Renewable Energies Info, the earth’s surface receives 120,000 terawatts of solar irradiation, which represents 20,000X power than the whole planet needs. Moreover, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) states that the sun still has around 6.5 billion years of life, which makes solar energy the most desirable, abundant, and freely available natural resource for electricity generation. Indeed, in rather less time, solar technology in some countries has evolved to compete with conventional sources of electricity generation. In just a few decades’ time, it will most likely be the mainstream sustainable energy system for the world. Given the rapidly growing energy requirements, exploding investments in the renewables sector, governmental and non-governmental efforts in promoting solar energy technology, falling technology prices, and strengthening network of solar panel installers, the floating solar panels market is poised for a promising growth outlook.
Covering Water with Solar Panels Is a Power Move
For the technology to be effective, large structures of panels, and arrays are necessary in order to capture enough sunlight - and water bodies naturally provide a plenty of space. This requires large amounts of space, and given the fact that around 70% of the world’s surface is covered by water, it is unsurprising that companies have sought to develop floating solar energy farms. Instead of leaving water bodies open and letting the sun evaporate the water away, cover them with panels that would both shade the precious liquid, and hoover up solar energy. The turbulent oceans are however not the suitable location for large solar arrays. Reservoirs, and lakes that can provide calmer waters need to safely operate a fleet of floating solar energy farms.
Unlike traditional solar panel installations that are affixed to roofs, or ground mounts, floating panel installations are placed right on lakes, water basin, or reservoirs. Building the sun-sucking tech on water is an ingenious way of freeing up land. In places where there is scarcity of available land, building of medium, and large-scale plants on water surfaces is the correct, viable choice. This is the case for Japan, which hosts 73 of the world’s 100 largest floating solar plants accounting for 246MW of solar capacity.
Innovations Continue to Pour in Solar Industry
The largest floating solar panels could generate huge amounts of clean energy at a reasonable cost while saving a lot of water (the main requirement for flora, and fauna to survive) by reducing evaporation. Covering waterways would, in a sense, make solar panels water-cooled, boosting their efficiency. An increase of 16% in efficiency is due to the cooling effect of water on panels, reduce losses and extend the life of the plant. Greater efficiency offsets the higher costs of installation (meet decarbonisation goals as well). According to estimations of Nature Sustainability, the net present value of canal-spanning solar systems could be as much as 50% higher than solar farms on nearby land.
The deployment of floating solar panels is growing in popularity around the world. The outlook for floating solar panels is positive and set to break free of its niche perception. More than 35 countries today have an estimated 350 floating solar panels. Southeast Asia has roughly two thirds of the total floating solar panel installations globally, mostly in China, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. While China, and India together account for six of the world’s 10 biggest floating solar projects in the various stages of their development, South Korea accounts for two as of now. Researchers at University of California have introduced a new creation – anti-solar panels that can potentially harness solar power at night for energy generation round the clock. This is being increasingly perceived as the future of solar industry.
Key Players in Floating Solar Panels Market
Canadian Solar, Conergy, First Solar, Hanwha Q Cells, GCL-SI, JA Solar, JS Solar, JinkoSolar, Kyocera, LONGi Solar, Mage Solar, MUST Solar, Panasonic, REC Solar, Risen Energy, Samsung, Schott, Seraphim Energy Group, Sharp, Suntech, SunPower, Talesun Solar, Trina Solar, and Yingli Solar constitute some of the key market players competing in the global floating solar panels landscape.