The Future of Photovoltaics? Floating Panels at the Equator Could Generate Unprecedented Energy Amounts

Floating Panels
Harnessing solar power through floating solar farms for certain countries? Researchers from the Australian National University suggest it's possible. How much energy could such floating power plants generate?

Floating Photovoltaics as a Key Energy Source

Professors from the Australian National University have released a comprehensive article about how equatorial regions are an ideal location for installing floating solar power plants. These power plants wouldn’t be threatened by high waves or strong winds in those areas. Additionally, tropical storms have minimal impact on these regions.

According to the researchers, floating solar power plants in these waters could produce up to 1 million TWh annually. The most suitable locations, in their opinion, are the waters around Indonesia and the equatorial West Africa near Nigeria. Panels installed in these waters wouldn’t require expensive protective measures.


Photo by NJR Cev

What Could Such a Floating Power Plant Look Like?

According to the article, solar energy produced at sea in Indonesia alone could yield around 35,000 TWh of solar energy per year. This could cover the entire annual energy demand of Indonesia, a country with about 270 million inhabitants. Achieving this would necessitate approximately 25,000 square kilometers of photovoltaic panels – an area roughly between the sizes of Israel and Belgium.

The Indonesian region is indeed ideal. It encompasses approximately 140,000 square kilometers of marine landscape that hasn’t experienced waves exceeding 4 meters or winds stronger than 10 m/s over the past 40 years. Theoretically, something similar could be realized in the future. However, the entire plan seems somewhat ambitious.

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