The functionality and use of inventions have made their way into conversations in recent years in a big way. Offshore solar is seen by many as a solution to the ever-present problem of the limited space we have to construct . Rooftop solar panels and community solar gardens are not ideal for all settings in the United States. Despite progress in this area and leaders in the field that are working to integrate solar panels more seamlessly with everyday construction, more still needs to be done in order for us to continue down the path towards a renewable future. 

This is why nearly every country in the world is currently cultivating offshore solar farms, or is, at the very least, discussing the benefits that may come from the construction of such offshore solar innovations. Offshore solar consists of on top of large bodies of water or offshore wind turbines. These two primary renewable energy mechanisms are able to perform just as solar panels and wind turbines on land do – except they utilize bodies of water to take up space, rather than the limited land space that our earth has. 

Many are hopeful that offshore solar will be the solution to many of the drawbacks and downsides inherent in solar panels. It is possible that more people may even be more likely to invest in solar power plants and farms, if it means that the construction of such renewable energy sites does not interfere with the look and feel of their cities, with solar panels being plastered on every rooftop, for example. With offshore solar, individual rooftop panels and other space-taking renewable energy farms will not be as necessary. Although offshore solar projects cost more to construct, they are twice as efficient thanks to the cooling effects of the water, which extends the life of the panels and helps reduce thermal losses. 

International Offshore Solar Leaders 

There are two countries that have consistently been at the forefront of the offshore solar race. Both Singapore and Japan are making strides in the offshore solar industry, proving that offshore solar is not just effective, but a potential space-saving solution that will allow solar panels to be built in mass. 

Singapore Offshore Solar 

Because the country is particularly land-scarce, Singapore has had an advantage and opportunity to break-in to the offshore solar industry from the start. In addition to the abundance of sunlight year-round and plenty of water surrounding the country, it is no surprise that the offshore solar industry in Singapore is taking off. 

The biggest project currently underway in Singapore is a floating solar farm being led by a renewable energy provider known as Sunseap Group. The will generate 6,388MW-hours of renewable energy per year and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2,600 tons every year. The Sunseap Group is actively looking for other locations in the region to build more floating solar farms, such as in reservoirs and other areas along the coast. 

Japan Offshore Solar 

If Singapore has a problem when it comes to available land to build solar panels, Japan has even more of a crisis to manage in this right. However, just like Singapore, Japan also has plenty of surrounding water available to construct offshore solar panels and floating solar farms — and Japan has long since taken advantage of its surroundings. The country was the first to successfully construct a floating solar panel and its reservoirs now hold 73 of the world’s 100 largest floating solar farms. 

The Future of Offshore Solar 

From 2014 to 2018, the worldwide output of floating solar panels increased 100-fold. While there has been notable enthusiasm surrounding floating solar panels and other offshore solar systems, some have questioned whether or not the idea will really be as beneficial as it is anticipated to be. Critics of offshore solar have mentioned concerns about weather in particular regions, especially in Japan, and how typhoons and other extremes will impact floating solar panels. There has also been concern over ecosystem changes or interruption due to the solar panels blocking out sunlight. These potential impacts, however, can only be speculated for the time being. We can at least take comfort in knowing that the problems involving having enough space for solar panels to be placed may finally be solved. 

 

Resources: 

https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Solar-Energy/Who-Is-Winning-The-Offshore-Solar-Race.html 

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/sun-seeker-at-sea 

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/japan-is-the-world-leader-in-floating-solar-power/ 

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