'Flotovoltaics,' solar panels that float on existing reservoirs, leads to all kinds of unexpected side benefits. At the Far Niente winery in Napa Valley, which pioneered the technology in the U.S., their floating solar grid reduces evaporation from their irrigation pond and inhibits algae growth. It also saves the winery from giving up valuable grape-growing land, even as it produces more electricity than the winery uses.
And the benefits work both ways — the water can boost solar panel efficiency in hot climates. In Israel, Solaris Syntec uses evaporative cooling to keep its floatovoltaics at a constant temperature, which makes them more efficient.
You might not think there's a lot of potential markets for floating solar panels, but that's because you're a big dummy. The country is littered with reservoirs, many of them for drinking water, and birds poop in them all the time, so covering them with a protective layer of panels is actually a step up.
Get Grist in your inbox