Floating Solar Farms are Becoming a Reality over Much of the World

Some countries are actually starting to lay out solar arrays floating on water.

Floating Solar Farms
Floating solar farm in the Netherlands. Image from Getty Images Popular Mechanics

It’s true that is making amazing gains all over the world every single year. That’s because the top solar use countries are adding many gigawatts of installed solar capacity at a rapid rate. All of this new installed solar capacity is great, but it comes with a cost: it takes up a lot of land space when installing these big solar farms. It’s one of the main reasons why countries that do not have a lot of free land space turn to other forms of renewable energy.  

There is, however, a new way to build solar farms that helps to solve the space dilemma that many countries face when it comes to installing new solar power capacity. Some countries are actually starting to lay out solar arrays that float on water. It’s a new and creative way of setting up a solar farm that is catching on world-wide. 

Floating solar farms are even thought to increase solar panel efficiency because the water keeps the solar panels cooler, which is known to produce more energy. 

Netherlands is Building the First Ocean Based Floating Solar Farm 

It’s not surprising that the Netherlands is one of the countries that have started to build floating solar farms. That’s because the Netherlands is a very low lying country that has very little open space to build them on. The fact it’s a low lying country also means there is plenty of water around, which makes floating solar farms an ideal choice for the country (think of the little Dutch boy plugging the hole in the dike with his finger). What’s unusual is that this new floating solar farm will be the first to actually be built on the open seas. 

The Netherlands floating solar farm is scheduled to cover some 2,500 square feet when it’s completely finished as projected in 2021. It must be noted, however, that the first phase of the project will only cover some 30 square meters to be used as a test platform to ensure its stability before the rest of the floating solar farm is completed. 

China Is Getting In On the Act  

As China has been a leader and innovator in solar farm construction, it’s not surprising that they have been experimenting with floating solar farms for many years now. Most of their floating solar farms to date have been built on large lakes and dead bodies of water like those created as a byproduct of mining.   

Their newest floating solar farm project in Anhui Province is now the biggest floating solar farm in the world. When it comes fully online this month, it will generate some 40 megawatts of electrical power. That’s twice the size of the next biggest floating solar farm setup. 

Australia Will Add Battery Storage to One of its Floating Solar farms 

There is a 100 kilowatt floating solar farm in Lismore, New South Wales, that will use a little creativity and add a solar backup battery capacity for the first time to a floating solar farm. This floating solar farm is part of a bigger project that the city’s leaders hope will enable the city to be powered 100% by renewable energy sources by the year 2023. Of interest to note is that this project was built on the ponds that are part of a local sewage treatment facility. 

This solar facility works in conjunction with another 100 kilowatt floating solar farm built at a local aquatic center and a much larger 5 megawatt land based solar farm. By adding battery storage, these solar farms will be able to provide power in Lismore long after the sun goes down. This is a major step when trying to use only 100% renewable energy sources. 

Floating Solar Farms Will Open Up Solar Energy to More Countries 

You can rest assured that many other countries will be keeping their eye on how well these floating solar farms are working and how cost effective they are at producing electricity. If these first few floating solar farms are highly successful, you can expect many other countries to expand their solar-derived energy capacity by building these good-sized solar farms on large bodies of water. 








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