Floating solar arrays — they are often referred to as “floatovoltaics,” a term trademarked by one company — also have advantages over solar plants on land, their proponents say. Renting or buying land is more expensive, and there are fewer regulations for structures built on reservoirs, water treatment ponds and other bodies of water not used for recreation. . . .Plus they don't cover lovely hills with solar panels.
The floating arrays have other assets. They help keep water from evaporating, making the technology attractive in drought-plagued areas, and restrict algae blooms. And they are more efficient than land-based panels, because water cools the panels.
“The efficiencies are what motivated us to look at this,” said Rajesh Nellore, chief executive officer of Infratech Industries, which has completed the first section of a floating solar plant in Jamestown, Australia, that will eventually cover five water treatment basins. The installation, which went into operation last year, generates up to 57 percent more energy than a rooftop solar plant.
The main possible downside would be cutting off the sunlight reaching the lake, leading to its death. Gaining solar power but losing a lot of photosynthesizing algae might be a dubious trade-off. But apparently these lakes are still living and productive, as long as their surfaces are only partially covered. Something to watch, though.