How Japan became the world leader in floating solar power

Solar Panels 2019

(Zbynek Burival, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Content


How do you increase your solar energy output when you need all your land for agriculture and for housing? Answer: take to the water. That’s just what they are doing in Japan.

The world’s first floating solar plant was built in Japan, in Aichi Prefecture in central Honshu. The country’s many inland lakes and reservoirs are now home to 73 of the world’s 100 largest floating solar plants and account for half of those plants’ 246 megawatts of solar capacity.

Global growth of floating solar power
Image: World Bank

Hyogo Prefecture in southern Honshu has almost 40,000 lakes and already hosts nearly half the floating solar capacity of the world’s 100 largest plants. Many plants are small scale, helping the region to kick-start the move to distributed local power generation which the World Economic Forum has identified as the key to transforming the world’s power supply.

The biggest Japanese floating solar plant sits behind the Yamakura Dam at Ichihara in Chiba Prefecture. It covers 18 hectares, can power nearly 5,000 homes and is saving more than 8,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.

 Japan’s Yamakura plant is made up of almost 60,000 solar panels

Japan’s Yamakura plant is made up of almost 60,000 solar panels
Image: World Bank

Tailor-made for Asia

Floating solar is particularly well suited to Asia, where land is scarce but there are many hydroelectric dams with existing transmission infrastructure. China has just connected the world’s biggest floating solar plant at Anhui, which will generate almost 78,000 megawatts in its first year, enough to power 21,000 homes.

But Anhui’s record may not stand for very long. Next year, South Korea is due to complete what it says will become the world’s largest floating solar plant, delivering 102.5 megawatts, capable of powering 35,000 homes. Singapore has built an offshore floating solar power plant in the Strait of Johor and Thailand plans 16 floating solar projects on nine hydropower dam reservoirs.

The world’s top 10 floating solar plants

Image: Solarplaza.com

The technology is relatively new. The first patents were taken out in 2008 and its proponents say floating solar is up to 16% more efficient than land-based systems. As well as freeing up scarce land, floating solar panels also stop the growth of algae, which can harm fish stocks and slow the rate of evaporation from reservoirs.

Surging ahead

World floating solar output grew 100-fold from 2014 to 2018. It could soon provide more power than conventional land-based systems. The pace is picking up. India recently announced it plans to create 10 gigawatts of floating solar capacity.

Although its proponents say floating solar has massive potential, critics worry it may harm marine ecosystems by blocking sunlight. They also point to its vulnerability to bad weather. In 2017, a typhoon did considerable damage to an installation near Osaka.

On the up side, floating solar linked to hydroelectric plants has the potential to maintain power supplies when water levels drop. Experts say that it works well where power grids are weak. They think sub-Saharan Africa could be the next big beneficiary of the technology.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The EU Parliament backs the ‘Right2Water’ initiative all the way through

Move over G7. The future belongs to a more inclusive G20

Better protection against non-cash payment fraud

MEPs approve boost to workers’ rights in the gig economy

UN and African Union in ‘common battle’ for development and climate change financing

Is the West gradually losing Africa?

Accelerating a more sustainable industrial revolution with digital manufacturing

The EU can afford to invest trillions in support of employment

The JADE Spring Meeting is about to begin

Let the Italians have it their way, it may be good for all Eurozone

Four lessons for a successful switch to value-based healthcare

Strong multilateral institutions key to tackling world’s dramatic challenges, UN chief says In Moscow

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum to open its door on 14th January, in association with The European Sting

Global Leaders Take The Stage At MWC Shanghai 2019, in association with The European Sting

‘Be the change’ we desperately need, UN deputy chief urges global youth

‘Global trust’ declining, ‘our world needs stepped-up global leadership’

5 ways to go green in your own kitchen

Preparing for developing countries the ‘Greek cure’

COP21 Breaking News_05 December: Children Will Bear the Brunt of Climate Change: UNICEF

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Changing the Face of Europe

Generation Z will outnumber Millennials by 2019

Progress in medical research: leading or lagging behind?

Estonian Prime Minister Ratas: Europe is a thought that must become a feeling

Why economic growth depends on closing the interview gap

Mexico must increase foreign bribery enforcement: full implementation of anti-corruption reforms could help

Commission hardens its stance against carmakers ensuring emissions reductions targets

Drawing scenarios for drifting Britain; elections or May’s deadlock?

Nearly 900 reportedly killed following ‘shocking’ intercommunal attacks in DR Congo

FROM THE FIELD: Weaving profits in Azerbaijan

Where are people most proud to be European?

Eight years in, Syria still embroiled in conflict ‘that no longer sparks outrage’, Security Council hears

Why a healthy planet and a healthy economy go hand-in-hand

Biggest London City Banks ready to move core European operations to Frankfurt or Dublin?

To all far-right partisans who exploit Charlie Hebdo atrocity: a peaceful reply given by a peaceful student

Britain heading to national schism on exit from EU

Crucial medical supplies airlifted to north-east Syria to meet ‘desperate need’

IMF: The near-term outlook for the U.S. economy is one of strong growth and job creation

DR Congo: Electoral process advancing despite threat of armed groups, UN envoy tells Security Council

Execution of juvenile offender in Iran ‘deeply distressing’ – UN rights chief

‘Let the children live’: UN prepares to ramp up food aid to Yemen as famine risk grows

UN chief condemns killing of ‘blue helmets’ in DR Congo, as violence erupts prior to elections

UN Security Council offers Yemen Special Envoy ‘their full support’

‘Internal security’ or how to compromise citizens’ rights and also make huge profits

This robot has soft hands. It could be the future of sustainable production

Press coverage of migration crisis in Europe: a call for collaborative action

Brexit: Six more months of political paralysis or a May-Corbyn compromise?

This is what great leadership looks like in the digital age

“If they think they can slave an entire nation, then they will just have the opposite results!”, Alexis Tsipras cries out from the Greek parliament

When did globalization begin? The answer might surprise you

Artificial intelligence: Commission takes forward its work on ethics guidelines

Syria: Guterres concerned over reported attacks in Idlib, calls for ‘full investigation’

EU, Latin America and the Caribbean: Partnering for prosperity, democracy, resilience and global governance

Methane levels are increasing – and scientists aren’t sure why

The European Youth explains the age gap in European business in the 21st century

Flexible jobs can make work-life balance worse, a German study finds

While EU Open Days 2013 discuss the 2020 strategy, Microsoft shares a glimpse of EU 2060

Moving from commitment to action on LGBTI equality

UNICEF welcomes Bangladesh statement that Rohingya will not be forced to leave

How tiny countries top social and economic league tables (and win at football, too)

World’s Press Calls on the United Kingdom to Address Press Freedom Concerns

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s