Offshore solar power? The concept may seem a little strange, but an Australian solar power company by the name of Sunengy has not only built a prototype for floating solar panels—they’ve been given the go-ahead in India to build an entire off-shore solar plant.
This one-of-a-kind solar plant has its fair share of advantages over traditional facilities. According to Sunengy, the Liquid Solar Array (LSA) technology offers reduced costs because the panels don’t require the use of pricy supporting structures.
The lenses are also able to track the sun easily throughout the day, and won’t be damaged if submerged underwater. In fact, the water helps cool the cells, which in turn increases cell efficiency and lifespan.
Hydropower currently supplies 87% of the world’s renewable energy, although its availability depends on whether water is available or not.
But according to Phil Connor, Sunengy Executive Director and Chief Technology Officer, this LSA installation would not only match the power offered by a hydro dam using only 10% of its surface area, it could also provide an extra 6-8 hours of power each day.
Sunengy is pairing with India-based Tata Power to get this pilot plant under construction by August of this year. If all goes as planned, they hope to market the technology to hydropower facilities, mining sites, and small villages and communities that rely heavily on diesel power generators.
Perhaps one of the largest upsides to the LSA technology is that finding open land to build on is no longer an issue. That will undoubtedly spark much interest in the future.