Floating Solar Parks? Seriously?

Floating Solar will move with the sun through the arc of a day, providing more opportunity for solar energy production.
Courtesy of Evides

How does your energy generation go green when you have a limited amount of land, and much of that is below sea level? You can design a floating solar park! The obvious candidate for such an innovation is The Netherlands. And they’ve done it! Trust the Dutch to think outside the box.

The Dutch company Floating Solar creates renewable solar systems, and they’ve built Europe’s largest floating, sun-tracking solar park in collaboration with Evides Waterbedrijf, a company that supplies drinking water, only four miles from central Rotterdam. At this site almost 3,000 solar panels stretch across a 345-foot-diameter circular platform that forms a man-made island floating in a seven-plus-acre reservoir, where Evides stores river water that will be processed into drinking water.  Embedded sensors and a series of anchor cables and winches enable the entire platform to rotate, so the solar panels follow the sun’s movement. It all fits with the Dutch land-use philosophy. “By using this water surface, we ensure that the scarce land remains available for other purposes,” explains program manager Dirk Mathijssen.

There are more advantages than just efficient space utilization. According to Kees-Jan van der Geer, general manager at Floating Solar, “The energy yield is 20 to 30% higher than with static (land) systems.” Efficiency is enhanced by tracking the sun, and the water has a cooling effect on the solar panels. Consequently, the platform generates about 15% of the electricity that Evides uses at this water-processing site.

So what could go wrong? Several things: high winds can plague Rotterdam, so sensors monitor wind forces, the height of waves and other variables to make the system stormproof. If the wind gusts at 47 to 53 m.p.h., “we turn the island square into the wind so it blows through the rows of solar panels,” explains van der Geer. Also the solar panels are set at an angle to discourage birds from landing and either leaving droppings or building nests.

And that’s just the first step; in several months, they plan to have three even bigger floating solar parks. This is another example of how solutions are out there as long as we use imagination to find them.

Taken from “What Went Into Building Europe’s Largest Floating Solar Park” by Jeanine Barone (https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/building-europes-largest-floating-solar-park?).

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