At Solar Energy World, when we analyze property for a solar array, we take into account several factors, including energy usage, and available roof space or land for maximum sun exposure. Indeed, exposure to sunlight is the most important factor when it comes to generating solar power, simply because without sunlight, solar panels cannot work.
Deserts are a desirable location for large scale solar installations because of their sunny climates, and the amount of space available. According to the DESERTEC website, more solar energy hits the deserts of the world within six hours than is consumed around the world in one year.
The European Union is poised to take advantage of the immense amounts of solar radiation in the Sahara. Covering an estimated 6,500 square miles of the Sahara with solar panels and wind turbines, the EU will begin importing electricity by 2015. It may sound like a lot of space, but considering the vast size of the Sahara, it would take only one percent of the surface area covered in solar panels to provide enough electricity for the entire world.
Another development in the world of solar power is the concept of using the ocean and other bodies of water for solar power. The oceans make up the majority of the earth’s surface, and, similar to deserts, they are exposed to a lot of sunlight. There are no trees, or buildings to worry about on the high seas, after all!
Of course, there are a few obvious obstacles to placing solar panels on the ocean, namely finding somewhere to put them in the first place. According to this article, several companies are planning to build floating solar islands of steel and plastic, that will be set to drift on placid bodies of water.
Another risk to floating solar arrays? Hurricanes and tropical storms could pose a threat. Included in the design for these solar islands is the ability for the entire floating structure to submerge, in order to avoid storm force winds.
What do you think, are desert solar arrays and floating islands of solar panels the future of energy production? Share your thoughts on the Solar Energy World Facebook page
Referenced in this article:
“Europe Will Be Powered by Solar Panels in 5 Years“, ImpactLab
“This Island Paradise is for One thing Only, Solar Power“, FastCoExist