Floating solar panels - the key to lowering emissions?23rd Feb 2012
Floating solar panels could soon be seen in towns and cities across the world, thanks to a new invention by Marco Rosa-Clot.
He believes that the panels will provide a more attractive and cost-effective alternative to traditional means of generating solar power.
Mr Rosa-Clot, who is a professor at Florence University and head of a small family business, believes that the flower-shaped panels solve some of the problems faced by standard flat versions.
"You are standing on a photovoltaic floating plant which tracks the sun, it's the first platform of its kind in the world," he announced to reporters who had gathered at the launch.
The panels are equipped with a Floating Tracking Cooling Concentrator system, which utilises parts of disused quarries or artificial reservoirs to help keep the solar panels cool.
One of the problems that some traditional panels face is that they over-heat, which is less of an issue when they are placed on water, explained Mr Rosa-Clot.
Meanwhile, reflectors are used to maximise the amount of sunlight that reaches the system.
Each of the panels is sat on a raft-like structure, which are then anchored to the bottom of the lake with a pylon to ensure they stay in position.
The current model is capable of producing 30 kilowatts of electricity, which should be able to provide power to around 12 households at an estimated 3kW per apartment.
Although still in the early stages, Mr Rosa-Clot revealed that a number of international buyers have shown an interest in the system, including those in Italy, Germany and France.
"Reactions from abroad have been very positive. Some Koreans came to Pisa to see us and we signed a three-year contract giving them a license to build this sort of installation in South Korea," revealed the inventor.
It was recently reported by Reuters that Germany used its abundance of solar power to help neighbouring France keep up with demand during the cold snap that swept Europe.
People in France were told to limit their use of electrical appliances to ensure the grid could generate enough energy for everyone.
However, this proved difficult as many properties are poorly insulated and do not have sufficient heating, the news provider revealed.
Germany is considered one of the global leaders when it comes to solar energy, with figures showing that it houses approximately 37 per cent of the world's solar plants.
Posted by Mike Peacock