From a floating solar power plant in India to floating solar cucumbers, we've seen plenty of promising projects that site solar arrays over water bodies. Besides circumventing land-use issues, these designs often utilize water as a cooling element, improving the efficiency of the solar panels themselves.
Sonia Logre over at Discovery News reports on a system of floating solar trackers designed by Italian engineers Scintec which, they say, could dramatically improve efficiency and reduce installation costs:
Scintec says its system costs 20 percent less than ground-based structures. The flat panels are winged by reflectors and sit on raft-like structures which are anchored to the lake bed with a pylon.
Decked out in jeans and jacket, the engineer explained the benefit that a place like sun-kissed Sicily with its 75 square kilometers (29 square miles) of artificial reservoirs and lakes could draw from the system. "If we covered just 10 percent of that area with floating photovoltaic panels, we would have one gigawatt of power installed," he said -- enough to power 10 million 100-watt light bulbs.
Engineer Raniero Cazzaniga, who works on the project, said that some people think classic solar installations are spoiling the landscape. "Our system is designed for low-lying quarries. The installation is only about a meter (three feet) high and usually you can't see it until you get to the water's edge. It is not at all intrusive," he said.
Besides the cooling effect of the water and the lack of competition for land, Scintec's website explains that the floating platform allows for an efficient, single axis tracking that moves the reflectors, not the panels, to optimize the sunlight being captured.