Floating solar power plants – great potential or an accident in the announcement?

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

It is difficult to single out just one advantage of solar power plants because the positive impact of this renewable energy source on people and the environment is invaluable. Nevertheless, the feature that guarantees a secure future and the growing popularity of solar energy is certainly its adaptability.

Solar panels have found their place on rooftops, on the ground, even on satellites orbiting the earth, and recently there are some on the water.

Although the combination of water and electricity seems like an accident in the announcement, such projects have been successfully implemented around the world, and it could be said that their wider application is yet to come.

Biologists warn that solar power plants that occupy large areas can endanger the natural habitats of wild species and prevent certain areas from being used for growing food.

One solution may be to build floating solar power plants, carefully constructed to avoid disaster. Such solar power plants have attracted the attention of a large number of scientists who have discussed their long-term effects, both positive and negative, in the world media and in numerous scientific forums.

What everyone agreed on is that these power plants prevent excessive heating of water, and thus a number of side effects. Higher water temperatures lead to the growth of algae, which release large amounts of toxins that are deadly to fish. In addition, the evaporation of standing water significantly reduces their volume, and thus the amount of available oxygen for the normal functioning of the living world.

The construction of floating power plants could solve all these problems because it would completely block the inflow of sun rays and wind to a certain area of ​​the lake. However, we must be careful here as well, because there are still no unified studies that show how the “darkening” of one part of the lake, if not the whole lake, will affect the flora and fauna.

Some scientists have pointed out that blocking sunlight completely destroys organisms that perform photosynthesis and thus produce valuable nutrients. This could have a positive effect in some cases as it would prevent so-called water blooms, while in others it could be detrimental to the aquatic ecosystem.

An additional problem is the reduced ability to heat water after the winter season, and scientists are worried because aquatic organisms

Photo illustration: Unsplash (Aaron Burden)

they find it difficult to adapt to such dramatic temperature changes.

Other problems could be characterized as socio-economic because the mass use of floating solar power plants would significantly affect tourism, sports, fishing and navigation.

However, in order for this article not to take on a negative tone, floating solar power plants have great potential, and scientists claim that they are 12.5 percent more efficient than solar power plants on roofs and on the ground. Fortunately, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has published guidelines on how to mitigate the negative impact of renewable energy sources on biodiversity.

By carefully constructing floating solar power plants and carefully assessing the environmental impact following IUCN guidelines, it is possible to ensure the double benefit of such projects – obtaining clean energy and protecting aquatic ecosystems.

Milena Maglovski

Source: Energetski portal Srbije by www.energetskiportal.rs.

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