Is it a buoy? No…It’s a solar island!

23 Aug

A partnership has been established between two Swiss companies that will support the most forward advancing science project this year to date. Floating, solar-powered labs planned to study “the effectiveness of concentrated solar power on water.” By year’s end, the world will have its first three buoyed solar islands…impressive!

The labs will be located just off the shore of the Swiss lake Neuchatel and will be launched in August. The spec for this futuristic idea is as follows;

  • Each panel will be back-to-back on a 45° incline.
  • Each floating laboratory is 25 meters in diameter and will carry 100 PV panels.
  • Their location on the water lowers its resistance, therefore increasing its effectiveness.
  • The islands can rotate 220° in the direction of the sun tracking it throughout the day.

The labs will each be connected to the grid on the mainland. For safety they will be anchored to the lakebed by cables which will be connected to solid concrete blocks. The life expectancy of the solar islands is believed to be 25 years.

On the island will be a plastic membrane full of solar concentrating mirrors floating above the water. The energy will be generated by the mirrors heating up liquid and turning it into steam to then power a turbine.

Floating solar was first pushed in 2007 by Thomas Hinderling, a Swiss researcher who, at the time, was the CEO of the ‘Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique’. Hinderling’s first pitch attracted $5 million in funding from the United Arab Emirates, which had just recently begun its push to fund clean energy technologies. Hinderling approximates that an island a mile across could produce 190 megawatts of power with a breakeven price point of $0.15 a kilowatt hour.

Happy with the technology, Hingerling pushed the plan into the next phase. Currently his solar lab company is named ‘Nolaris’.

Nolaris has gained $108M in investment from Viteos SA (A Swiss Energy Company). That’s adequate to build three islands and the infrastructure desired to route power back to the mainland. Once built, each island will claim a capacity of 33 kilowatts.

Could this be the future for solar power? So much of the world’s oceans are currently undiscovered nether mind being used. Do the world’s oceans path the way to a green sustainable future? Check this space!

 

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