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AQUASUN system puts floating solar panels on bodies of water

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February 28, 2011

AQUASUN is a system of floating solar panels, that can be installed on the surface of exis...

AQUASUN is a system of floating solar panels, that can be installed on the surface of existing bodies of water (Image: Solaris Synergy)

One of the potentially limiting characteristics of solar power is the fact that it takes up a lot of space. Solar panels obviously aren't going to be of much use if they're stacked one on top of the other, so instead must be spread out side-by-side, so each one can soak up the sun's rays. Although they're generally not in the way when mounted on top of buildings, large arrays of solar panels could start to become a hindrance when located on the ground. Tech companies from Israel and France, however, are developing what could be a way of avoiding that situation – floating solar panels that are installed on the surface of existing bodies of water.

Called AQUASUN, the system is the result of a collaboration between Israel's Solaris Synergy and the French EDF Group. The panels themselves utilize silicon cells, which are less expensive than other types, but also prone to inefficiency caused by overheating. Due to a cooling system that incorporates the water on which they're floating, however, overheating is said not to be a problem in this case. A system of mirrors that concentrates the sun's rays onto the panels reportedly boosts their efficiency further, reducing the number of panels needed and thus helping to lower costs even more.

In order to tailor the power output to their requirements, users could add or remove panels as needed – each modular panel reportedly produces 200 kW of electricity.

The system would not be installed on the open ocean or in ecologically-sensitive areas, but instead on reservoirs already in use for industrial or agriculture purposes. Even then, the panels are designed to allow oxygen to permeate through them, so that the water underneath won't become stagnant. In some cases, the panels could even help reduce evaporation and excess algae growth.

A prototype has already been built, and showcased at the 4th International Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Conference in Israel. The designers are now planning on installing it for a nine-month test period on a basin at a hydro-electric facility in southeast France, this September. They hope that by June of 2012, after observing the performance of the prototype through different seasons and water levels, they will have gathered sufficient data to make the system ready for the commercial market.

AQUASUN is part of Europe's EUREKA Network, that fosters the development of green businesses and technologies.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
6 Comments

And if everyone who has a swimming pool could use one as a pool cover when not swimming....

MotiveForcer
1st March, 2011 @ 05:21 am PST

The problem with utilizing bodies of water to "float" these panels is that those "bodies of water" have an ecosystem of their own, and rely on a certain amount of sunlight to reach to the whatever depths possible to sustain the animal and plant life.

So, unless these panels are even semi-transparent, I forsee a lot of "dead" lakes and animals booming if this trend catches on. Has anyone ever smelled a "ripe slough"???

I just cannot fathom WHY anyone would want to go throught the expense and trouble of installing such floating platforms when unusable land numbers in the millions of acres in any decent-sized country. Even small countries such as Israel cannot afford to spoil what usable lakes and ponds it still has.

Stick the darned things in the desert where they belong!

Edwin Wityshyn
1st March, 2011 @ 09:33 am PST

the most practical method is to build the panels on top of the existing buildings. People are spending millions on airconditioning and with these possible shades in place, that can take a tremendous load off the power needed for aircons.

Facebook User
1st March, 2011 @ 04:29 pm PST

I think they should make these into roof top blaankets so they can be placed on anyones roof.....

Richie Suraci
1st March, 2011 @ 05:30 pm PST

People, please note that these units are intended to go on reservoirs and such bodies of water which have little or not ecosystem as such. Also realize that if even part of the solar energy hitting the solar cells is converted to electricity that this amount of energy will not contribute to the heating of the body of water at any rate. This is important because cooler water can retain more dissolved gases.

Facebook User
2nd March, 2011 @ 12:33 am PST

I think [url=http://solarpanellessons.com/floating-solar-panels-project-aquasun-in-france-by-solaris-synergy/]floating solar panels[/url] are the best idea someone has come out with so far. With so much space already being taken by buildings and everything else, the opportunity to occupy a portion of our water space is great.

Facebook User
15th March, 2011 @ 06:03 am PDT
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