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Giant Floating Solar Farms: Japan’s Newest Energy Source


Floating solar panelsAfter the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan embraced renewable energy, especially solar energy. One thing Japan lacks in particular though is viable land to place solar farms big enough to generate enough electricity to meet Japan’s needs.

Always the innovators, Japanese scientists have come up with a neat solution; creating floating solar farms that will sit on reserviors all over Japan. There are now three such farms located around Japan. One of these located in the Hyogo prefecture will produce about 2,680 megawatt hours per year—enough for 820 typical households. Measuring 1,093 by 253 ft  the floating farm uses 9,072 waterproof solar panels installed on a float made of high-density polyethylene.

Installing solar panels on water actually makes them more efficient because of the cooling effect of the water underneath the system. Another bonus of installing these systems on water reservoirs is the shade generated by the stations helps reduce both water evaporation and algae growth, and the systems overall are also drought-friendly due to how much water they conserve.

These floating systems have been tested in natural disaster conditions and have been shown to be able to withstand hurricane conditions, an important consideration for Japan.

Kyocera Corporation, the company behind the installation, plans on building an even bigger system in the near future. To be located in the Yamakura Dam near Tokyo this system will be comprised of approximately 50,000 modules installed over a water surface area of 180,000m2. The plant will generate an estimated 15,635 megawatt hours per year — enough electricity to power approximately 4,700 typical households while offsetting about 7,800 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

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