Could Floating Solar Panels Become the New Normal?

Floating solar panels may look strange, but there's a lot of reasons for why Japan is about to build a huge set of them.

It’s no secret that some of our current sources of energy aren’t going to be around forever, which is why renewable energy has become a hot topic over the past several decades. From movie theaters to farms, more and more places are turning to solar panels in particular to help the save on energy costs and to become more environmentally-friendly. Now, it looks like solar panels could start to get used in a new way. How about putting them over water?

At the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Japan, officials plan to build more than 50,000 solar panels that will float on top of the water. It’s projected that the resulting energy capture will provide enough power for 5,000 homes, and it will become the largest array of such solar devices anywhere in the world. However, similar setups are already planned or in place in Jamestown, Australia and Sonoma County, California, among other locations.

The idea isn’t as crazy as it sounds; there’s actually some good reasons for pursuing floating solar panels. First of all, space constraints can be an issue on land, since solar panels need a lot of room to be spread out. Given that people are also interested in building things like housing, schools, and workplaces on land, there’s only so much space leftover for energy collection. Secondly, floating solar panels can help prevent water evaporation from reservoirs in drought-ridden areas, such as California. To prevent excess evaporation and gain vital energy at the same time seems quite efficient. And thus far, it looks as though there isn’t a big recorded impact on wildlife.

Solar panels work by by collecting the energy released when sunlight hits an atom and its electron breaks free, moving around inside a crystal structure. However, solar cells have to be strung together, since each one only creates a little bit of energy. Solar panels can be expensive to install be cost efficient after several years.

Header Image: EVARISTO SA / Staff

Why women make businesses more profitable

When it comes to the workplace, more diversity means more money.

Culture & Religion
  • While the workplace is slowly diversifying, some industries have been slow to change.
  • A growing body of research is uncovering that workplaces with greater diversity actual perform better. One of the clearest examples of this effect is in venture capitalism, where nearly all venture capitalists are white, male, Harvard graduates.
  • When VC firms hire more women, their effectiveness and profitability explodes.
Keep reading Show less

An end to suffering: 10 quotes on Buddhist philosophy

It's not what you have, it's what you do with it.

Personal Growth
  • Buddhism has been applied differently across the planet as it enters new cultures.
  • The underlying philosophical foundation is applicable to diverse situations, whether religious or secular.
  • But it is a practice, not a belief, and must be treated as a discipline for retraining consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

The Geminid meteor peaks Thursday night. Here’s how to view it best.

The Geminid meteor shower grows more intense with every year, and it's expected to be particularly bright in 2018.

Surprising Science
  • Look up at the skies from 2 to 7:30 a.m. on December 14 to see the most meteors.
  • To get the best view, travel away from city lights, avoid looking at your phone and let your eyes adjust to the dark.
  • Stargazers might also be able to catch a glimpse of a comet making a rare appearance, NASA astronomers say.
Keep reading Show less