So-called floatovoltaics are relatively old: first floating solar farms appeared in the end of the 2000s. Since then, the construction principles have been refined, and now this new solar panel technology is used with great success – so far mostly in Asian countries.
The main advantage of floating solar farms is that they can be installed on almost any water body. The cost of floating photovoltaic panels is comparable to a land installation of a similar size. What is more, the water underneath the PV modules cools them down, bringing greater efficiency to the whole system and minimizing energy waste. The performance of floating solar panels is usually 5-10% higher than the one of land installations.
China, India and Korea boast large-scale floating solar farms, but the biggest one is now being constructed in Singapore
. It really makes sense for the country: it has so little space that the government takes every opportunity to use its water resources.
Floatovoltaics have even started to make a splash in the USA. The US army launched a floating farm
on Big Muddy Lake on Fort Bragg, North Carolina in June 2022. The 1.1MW floating solar plant has an energy storage with 2 megawatt-hour capacity. The batteries will power Camp Mackall during power outages.