Can Floating Solar Power Plants Cover the Entire Energy Consumption of a Country?

Photo-illustration: Freepik (freepik)

Certain countries have huge potential when it comes to floating solar power plants, and new research shows that some of them could be entirely dependent on this energy source.

Researchers from Bangor and Lancaster Universities and the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology wanted to calculate the global potential for building floating solar power plants with a low carbon footprint.

Their study, published in Nature Water, included nearly 68,000 lakes and reservoirs worldwide suitable for installing floating solar panels because they are located near populated areas, are not in protected areas and meet other sustainability criteria.

Taking into account all factors such as altitude, latitude and season, the scientists calculated that the potential for annual electricity production from floating solar farms is 1,302 terawatt-hours per year, which is around four times the UK’s total annual electricity demand.


The research also found that Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia and Rwanda could cover their electricity needs from floating solar power plants. At the same time, Bolivia and Tonga would come very close, with an estimated 87 and 92 per cent, respectively.

In Europe, Finland could cover 17 per cent of its electricity demand this way, Denmark 7 per cent, and Great Britain only 1 per cent.

Experts estimate that floating solar power plants have several advantages compared to ground and roof ones.

In addition to preventing excessive water evaporation on hot days, floating solar panels limit light flow and thus reduce algae blooms. Another benefit of floating solar plants is the fact that they free up land for other purposes. On the other hand, water cools the solar panels, allowing them to function more efficiently.

However, many scientists agree that more research is needed on the environmental impacts of floating solar power plants.

Milena Maglovski