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The Benefits of Floatovoltaics

The use of renewable energy, specifically solar panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV), has increased rapidly since the beginning of the twenty-first century. Countries and organizations are adapting to these technologies to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and limit the emission of greenhouse gasses, which in the long run, helps decrease global warming.

Solar technologies convert sunlight into electricity through a collection of photovoltaic cells (photons) which are arranged in an array—a grid-like pattern. Each cell is composed of layers of silicon, phosphorus, and boron. When the solar panels absorb photons, an electric current is generated. The resulting energy caused by photons allows electrons to be knocked out of their atomic orbits and pulled into a directional current, known as the photovoltaic effect; this phenomenon generates power from solar panels.

If nations want to expand their use of PVs, large spaces of land will be needed due to their land-intensive requirements. This can cause problems since there is severe competition for land because of the need for food production and biodiversity conservation. However, PVs do not have to be limited to just land—they can also be placed atop reservoirs and other still bodies of water.  Approximately 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water; thus, maximizing space on water is a remarkable solution.

In recent years, water-deployed solar panels, otherwise referred to as floatovoltaics (FPV), have gained more traction around the world. FPVs have five components: a pontoon of floaters, a mooring system, PV modules, cabling, and connectors. The design is adapted to suit water body function. Researchers have argued that FPVs could provide many benefits, the main one being minimizing the threats of global warming.

Increasing water temperatures threaten our ecosystems and sea-level rise; however, FPVs are proven to mitigate water temperatures. FPVs shade the water from sunlight and wind, changing the ecological and biogeochemical processes that occur underneath. New studies have revealed that FPVs reduce evaporation because of their shading properties, which lessens the chance of drought, limits the presence of algae blooms, oxygenates deeper water, and improves water quality. This all leads to a decrease in the effects of global warming. Additionally, FPVs are 15% more efficient than PVs because the water keeps them cool.

Furthermore, hybridizing FPVs with hydropower systems can address the issues when sunlight and water are scarce. When high solar power production, sunlight can be stored as potential energy in reservoirs. Hydropower generations can also be shifted to different times of the year to conserve water with the help of FPVs. Lastly, FPVs are significantly less expensive than regular PVs because more labor is required for land installations, like soil treatment and the clearing of obstructions (e.g., trees). There is also less demand for cleaning since FPVs are typically away from debris.

There is still plenty of research needed to be done. Nonetheless, FPVs are becoming increasingly more invested in around the world, and are proven to be sustainable energy alternatives. If FPVs covered only 1% of water, there would be enough electricity to generate 44 billion LED light bulbs for one year


  1. “What Is A Solar Panel?” Mr. Solar.

  2. “How putting floating solar panels over reservoirs could help us fight climate change.” Derya Ozdemir.

  3. “What you need to know about floating solar panels (floatovoltaics).” Havenhill Synergy.

  4. “Floating photovoltaics could mitigate climate change impacts on water body temperature and stratification.” Giles Exley.

  5. “What Are Floatovoltaics?” Shane Croghan.

  6. “Floating solar farms could cool down lakes threatened by climate change.” The Conservation.

  7. “Enabling FPV Deployment.” Sika Gadzanku and Nathan Lee.


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