Google X – Floating Solar Farms

Google X could steer us away from our dependence on fossil fuels thanks to the ultramodern concept of floating solar farms.

floating solar farm in Australia
Floating solar farm in Lismore, Australia. Image from

Years ago, visions of futuristic creations entailed self-driving vehicles, the ability to see a person a thousand miles away at any time and any place, and of course, clean energy powering the world. All of these concepts have become a reality – well, to some degree. Google X has brought attention to a relatively new concept – floating solar farms.  This innovative creation could end up drawing us away from the dependence that we have on fossil fuels. What it could do in terms of renewable groundwork for energy is unparalleled. A solar news article released this month (November 2017) on offers details on Google X and its floating solar farm.  

Surf’s Up: Solar Panels Are Making A Splash  

When it comes to solar power, one of the issues that comes into play is the use of land – or lack thereof. Solar panels need to be installed somewhere – and typically, this is on top of company buildings and homes. While installing solar panels certainly has perks, they [solar panels] can’t produce a huge amount of energy on a roof. In order to produce a large amount of energy, a large amount of land is needed to set up big stretches of solar panels. The problem is that finding expansive amounts of land can be difficult. One way to fix this concern is to put solar panels on bodies of water – yes, floating solar farms. In order to be operative, solar fuel cells have to experience a drop in temperature. This way, their energy can go back into the solar panels. The idea of floating means that water will cool the solar fuel cells, which means that energy can be saved to be utilized for other purposes. Moreover, shading is offered by the PV panels, which also lessen the loss of water that occurs from evaporation.  

The notion of a floating solar farm isn’t completely new. As a matter of fact, China started to collect energy from the biggest floating solar farm in the world earlier this year. The solar farm China is using boasts 120,000 solar panels in a 40-megawatt power plant. Eventually, 15,000 homes could receive power from this solar farm, which covers the equivalent of more than 160 football fields.  

Google is not a new company in relation to clean energy. Actually, just last year, Google patented solar-powered water harvesting rafts. These are being utilized to collect rainwater over the ocean – it is filtered at a facility which runs, of course, on clean energy. The water is then given to areas in countries such as Africa that have a shortage of water.  

Google X’s floating solar farm concept is one which could change how the world views clean energy and solar power.   

Floating Solar Farms Are Surfacing Everywhere 

Australia’s biggest floating solar farm is now under construction in Lismore. The solar farm is being installed on the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant’s overflow pond. Australia also has a 100kW floating solar farm. It was installed by Suntrix, and is expected to provide 12 percent of the water treatment plant’s electricity.  

There are additional plans to expand the solar farm so that it will ultimately power the entire sewage works. The goal is to reach 100 percent renewables within the next six years.  

Sustainable energy efforts are taking place all over the world in the mission to go solar. Solar power is helping people everywhere to achieve energy independence, which obviously has cost-saving perks. The shift to a sustainable world is already having a quantifiable impact. It will be interesting to see the innovative ideas which come to surface in future solar news – what sort of solar power system might pop up, or float up, next? Perhaps Google X has the answer.  



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Carissa lives in Florida with her dachshund and enjoys traveling all over the country. She has been a writer for more than a decade, previously having worked for the Walt Disney Company. Her interests include exploring National Parks, hiking, crafting and cooking.


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