Solaris Synergy has won an award for a really brilliant idea: float concentrating solar panels on large bodies of water, such as reservoirs, to protect valuable land area for other needs. For now, the company is at the start-up stage, with a tiny (home-sized) 1 KW prototype installed on the company roof as proof of concept, but plans a 200KW system to be installed in a water reservoir in Israel later this year to test the concept.
If it works as the very tech-heavy engineering team (with a combined 200 years of mechanical engineering and mathematical modeling and silicon tech experience) believes it will, this idea solves a lot of issues with CPV (concentrated PhotoVoltaic: usually involving mirrors to further focus and concentrate the suns energy onto PV).
As the company points out, the vast majority of the suns energy that hits the earth just falls on water surfaces. Solaris Synergy hopes to utilize that for maximum solar production at minimum cost, by siting installations on bodies of water, because there is much more potential space there.
The company uses CPV on the water. Until now, CPV solar systems have only been used on land. CPV requires high sunlight concentration levels, and are subject to very stringent requirements: the heat must be evacuated or it will interfere with efficiency, negating the benefit derived by the mirror-concentrated sunlight.
CPV also requires precise optical tracking. The change in temperature from hot desert days to cool nifghts also means land-based CPV goes through a lot of thermal stress that wears down semiconductor material systems, accelerating breakdowns.
The Solaris panels would use the cooling qualities of water to solve all these issues.
The water-based siting would solve the NIMBY problem too. A solar project far out of sight in the center of large lakes or huge bodies of water (like the Dead or Red Seas) will not arouse complaints. It would be interesting to find out whether even the open ocean would work, or whether it would be too turbulent for this use.
A very exciting (and importantly – patented!) concept.
Image: Solaris Synergy