#2 – Rollin’ on the River
Floating solar or FPV (floating photovoltaic) doesn’t look anything like a river boat queen – but they sure are a pretty sight to those who want to generate cost-efficient solar power but don’t have large tracts of sunny land or enough roofs to do it on.
Vacant land in the U.S. Mojave Desert and elsewhere in the world’s sunniest countries far outside of developed areas, make huge solar farms financially feasible. But, based on the value of real estate, solar farms are rarely going to be the most profitable development use in urban, suburban or even country areas. But water, in this case man-made water such as basins, lakes and reservoirs, are nearly everywhere.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently issued a press release indicating that floating photovoltaic panels (which they call floatovoltaics) on man-made bodies of water can conservatively produce 10% of the country’s energy. Also among its benefits is decreasing evaporation and algae in used water sources.
Calling floatovoltaics an “emerging technology” (even though the first patent was obtained in 2008) that “addresses the energy/water nexus”, NREL research is ongoing including how to integrate floating PV panels into the supply/demand equation.
After land and water, what’s left to explore? Outer space, of course. China is already planning to launch a space solar generator by 2050.
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Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services