Rarely does a day go by where we don’t hear about new and exciting innovations taking place in the world of science and technology. There almost always seems to be some sort of ground breaking invention doing the rounds in the news that will be of great benefit to people and the environment. One of the very newest and most exciting inventions to come out of the world of science recently is that of floating solar panels which operate in the sea independent of any other man-made structures.
The Vienna University of Technology has developed a type of floating solar panel platform named Heliofloat. This panel can float easily on the sea and harvest power from sunlight. At 100 metres long, a Helioflot platform is about the same size as a football field. The solar panels, tailored edge to edge on the flat bottom, have maximum exposure to sunlight. Several of these floating panels can be connected to each other in order to efficiently generate a huge power supply. A typical 100-meter-long floating solar panel has the capacity to survive the ocean’s oft unpredictable weather patterns without sinking or sustaining much damage. Lightweight barrels at the bottom of Heliofloat help to keep it floating. These barrels are open to sea to form air pockets that work as a shock absorbers during bad weather.
What are the benefits of floating solar panels over land-based ones?
The many benefits of renewable solar technology are well known but with the invention of Heliofloat, the possibilities associated with using natural energy sources have increased substantially. According to the researchers behind Heliofloat, floating solar panels can do several jobs which are simply beyond the reach of similar sized land-based solar panels, such as supplementing the energy output of offshore wind ranches. They can also be useful in the purification of power plants and biomass extraction.
Sea-based applications such as Heliofloat technology could end up being a great boon for countries where land scarcity is an issue, as it simply floats on water, meaning no space is needlessly taken up by large solar farms and can be used for other things instead. Another useful benefit that floating solar panels can provide to the nearby climate is that they reduce localised evaporation by providing shading over water.
While solar panels which float on water are a fairly new piece of technology, the benefits associated with them are quickly coming to light. The only thing which seems strange about them is the fact that nobody ever saw fit to produce them before now!