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The solar industry has been hitting new highs almost every year. As a result, scientists are coming up with advanced solar technology capable of producing more electricity than the previous iterations.

Floating solar panels are the recent breakthrough and may be the next big thing in the renewable energy sector.

Generally, a 1MW solar project requires 2.5 to 4 acres of land. Once a solar installation is done, the land cannot be used for other purposes.

Floating solar panels can solve this problem for countries like Singapore, Malaysia, etc., where there is little land to waste.

If you want to install a system for heavy or specific usage, consider going through the pros and cons of floating solar panels.

This article will help you understand why and where floating panels are used and whether it is applicable for you..

What are floating solar panels? 

Floating solar panels are photovoltaic panels made up of buoyant photovoltaic cells.

A while back, such technology wasn’t believable, but modern science has made this concept a reality. The first floating solar panel was made in a Japanese institute in 2007.

Floating Solar Panels

These floating panels use advanced technology to make them light and easy to install on water. They are made from magnesium alloy which makes the panel body 2.5 times lighter than usual. They also have an increased strength against corrosion.

How do floating solar panels work? 

A few technical specifications make floating panels different from conventional ones.

Floating photovoltaics use pontoons to carry the solar power generator over the water bodies.

How do floating solar panels work? 

Pontoons are very made of rigid polymers that hold the photoelectric modules on them, which helps in the generation of electricity from solar energy. 

The PV cells of the floating panels absorb the incident solar energy from the sunlight and convert it into electricity with the help of solar inverters, which consist of semiconductors. The process is executed using a chain of chemical reactions.  

The generated electricity is then transferred and stored in a transmission center from these panels with the help of underwater cables.

Being very light in weight, these floating solar panels use an anchoring system commonly known as the mooring system, which helps them stay in a fixed position instead of floating away. 

The mooring system usually varies according to the requirements of the project.

Advantages of floating solar panels

Floating solar panels provide quite a few advantages, including:

1. No land space is needed

The availability of open land has been one of the necessary elements for solar panel installations, especially for large solar projects. 

The fact that these panels do not need land space is probably one of the most notable advantages of floating photovoltaics. 

The buoyancy of these panels makes it possible to place them in pools, ponds, and unused stagnant water bodies.

Additionally, the water helps the system to cool down by some fractions. Over time, this eventuates into significant cost benefits.

2. It is good for the environment

Floating solar panels can also play an essential part in improving the environment.

For example, these can be placed on clean water bodies to absorb sunlight and prevent excessive evaporation.

It also lessens the growth of algae in freshwater, which disrupts the ecosystem and thus, preserves the biotic life of ponds, lakes, and dams.

Floating photovoltaics may also reduce the adverse effects of greenhouse gasses up to a significant amount by acting as a clean and adequate substitute for fossil fuels.

Hopefully, with the proper implementation of floating panel technology, clean energy consumption will hit new highs and improve global environmental conditions.

3. Increased solar performance

The energy production capacity of a photovoltaic cell is highly dependent on the surface temperature of the panel. 

In simple words, the higher the temperature, the lower the thermal efficiency. However, in the case of floating panels, the water below the panel surface provides some cushioning from external heat, and the efficiency of floating photovoltaics increases.

In figures, a floating solar PV can produce approximately 15.5% more energy compared to a traditional model in a standard 2-hour (11 A.M. – 1 P.M.) experiment of solar irradiance. 

4. Easy to maintain

Every solar panel requires maintenance, whether it be conventional or floating.

However, the maintenance cost of floating solar panels is relatively lower than conventional solar panels for a few reasons.

Let us take a situation. If we place a solar panel in a desert or barren land, the natural breeze may cause dust and soil to sediment on the panel surface, leading to shading and diminished performance.

As floating panels are placed in the middle of a water body and are quite distant from the land, the possibility of dust accumulating on the panels is minimal.

Another reason is that, due to passive cooling of the water bodies, the floating panels can function more effectively than conventional solar panels.

High thermal signatures damage the efficacy of a solar panel. Unfortunately, this is a common problem in traditional solar panels.

The induced cooling from the water underneath the floating panel ensures that the device remains cool and generates electricity for an extended time.

5. Shade avoiding

Panels in the middle of a water body allow maximum sun rays to fall on it. It’s simply common sense that shade will minimize the efficiency of a solar panel.

As there are no trees or foundations in a water body, it lessens the probability of any shade falling on the PV cells. This results in higher electricity output than traditional solar panels installed on rooftops.

6. Convenient (for villages & cities close to water)

If you’re living in a town or village close to water, this technology can benefit you. If your community agrees to develop a floating solar system for your area, the people can avail themselves of various advantages.

A substantial floating panel setup can power households, grocery stores, banquets, schools, hospitals, and other institutions of a locality. Additionally, current technology allows any excess power to be stored during times of crisis. (e.g. rainy days)

Floating solar panels can be a simple and easy solution for communities that want to achieve energy freedom and save the environment.

Disadvantages of floating solar panels

Amidst all these benefits, there are a few disadvantages of floating solar panels, such as:


Well, any form of the solar energy system is expensive, and floating solar panels are on the higher side.

To set up a floating solar set up that can generate around 1MW of electricity, it will cost about 700000 US dollars. 

Though the installation cost is on the high end, experts suggest that the maintenance of floaters is more cost-efficient than the regular solar panels.

Even if the setup cost is pretty high, some good cuts in the maintenance expenditure may attract buyers.

Limited applications

If your energy needs are of a minimized amount, floatovoltaics may not be suitable for you.

Floating solar panels were first designed to provide energy to multinational organizations and huge offices, which need a tremendous amount of power on a routine basis.

Right now, floating solar plants are mostly used as a backup for energy generation companies. However, the technology still requires some developments and modifications to become usable for household purposes.

 Additionally, storing solar energy can cost a lot of money. Being expensive is also one of the prominent reasons why it is not a widely accepted option.

Solar panels have a huge opportunity to make themselves a commercial hit, but the technology lacks diversified utility at this point. 

Frequently asked questions

Before setting up a floating solar system, some common questions may come to mind. 

floating solar panels

To detangle your string of thoughts, we have answered a few questions down below, so you can go through them and get rid of confusion. 

We hope it will resolve some of your doubts.

Are floating solar panels more efficient?

Well, technically, floating solar panels are more efficient than traditional panels because they are cooler due to the water underneath.

With the conventional solar setup, panels lose their efficiency over time due to overheating from sun rays.

A floating panel can produce up to 77.5% more energy than a traditional panel on a daily average.

How long do floating solar panels last?

Floating solar panels are relatively long-lasting in comparison to conventional panels. In addition, they can function smoothly in high temperatures. This gives floating panels an upper hand over conventional ones.

In General, floating panels possess high tensile strength and corrosion withstanding ability. A well-built floating solar energy setup should last for at least 25 years.

What is the environmental impact of floating solar panels?

Floating solar panels have both positive as well as negative impacts on the environment. 

Floatovoltaics can help in resisting excessive evaporation from water bodies. They also control the algae bloom, which keeps the water clean.

Apart from this, experts suggest that prolonged usage of floating panels can effectively minimize the concentration of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere.

Amidst all these positives, this technology has a few negatives too.

Floating solar panels may block out a large amount of sunlight over a water body. As a result, underwater plants and algae get affected.

This event can highly disrupt the ecosystem living underneath those water bodies.

Solar floatovoltaics contain a heavy metal cadmium telluride. It includes a high-energy signature. 

When rainwater falls on these panels and slides down over the water body, the water gets contaminated with this metal, which is not suitable for the organisms of that water body.

What happens to plant life underneath floating solar panels?

Most plants living under lakes and ponds require sunlight for photosynthesis.

 Living organisms in these bodies of water thrive on plants. If plants don’t receive proper sunlight due to the presence of floating panels, the ecosystem in the lake or pond may be disrupted. 

Thus, a few water surface areas must be left vacant for plants and organisms to sustain life. Otherwise, the plants of that water body can face consequences. 

Where is the world’s largest floating solar? 

The world’s largest floating solar farm is in China. 

A Chinese power generation company, Huaneng Power International (HPI), has successfully built the largest floating solar system in Deshou, Shandong. This 320 MW project situated over the yellow sea is also connected to a 100 MW wind farm with a storage of 8 MW.

But it appears China will not hold the throne of the largest floating solar setup for long. The government of India will launch a 600 MW floating solar project in Madhya Pradesh by 2023.


Floating solar panels have innumerable advantages, which can diminish the usage of non-renewable sources of energy. 

Even if the technology is already in its final stage, its availability and price question its widespread usage. 

If scientists can find a way to decrease the price and make the panel with eco-friendly material, the concept may gain worldwide popularity in the next few years.

In the end, only time will say how this technology will influence and shape the energy sector in the coming years. 

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