Floating solar panels could completely power thousands of cities

Floating solar panels in Hapcheon, Gyeongsangnam-do province, South Korea, on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. More than 92,000 solar panels floating on the surface of a reservoir are able to generate 41 megawatts, enough to power 20,000 homes.  | Image: SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Thousands of cities around the world could power themselves entirely with solar panels floating atop water reservoirs, according to new research. It’s a relatively easy way to generate renewable energy locally while also conserving water.

Solar arrays suspended over water, or floatovoltaics, work similarly to those spread out over land. The panels sit on a raft instead of on parking lots, rooftops, or other grounded mounts. But they haven’t been deployed in many places around the world yet and only produced as much electricity as less than 1 percent of the world’s land-based solar farms in 2020. Now, a new study published in the journal Nature Sustainability shows just how much potential cities could tap into with this emerging…

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