Remaining competitive in the race to produce solar energy requires companies producing the most available wattage in the least amount of space. To become a viable option as an alternative form of energy for a community or small city, thousands of solar panels are needed, which translates to a great deal of space. But what happens when the land is scarce and in high demand? We look to the ocean.
Israeli startup Solaris Synergy is in the process of developing a water-based solar system technology; a floating solar power plant. Living in Israel where undeveloped land is in high demand, the company’s realized the need to find an alternative location to house the thousands of solar panels required to produce the desired output of energy. According to Solaris Synergy, any fresh, salt, or waste water surface can be turned into a solar energy platform.
Solaris Synergy’s top product is a floating concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) system which concentrates a large amount of sunlight onto a small area to generate electricity by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity. The system features a modular design that supports power output ranging from several kilowatts to dozen of megawatts, depending on the desired size.
According to the company, their floating power plant dramatically reduces the cost of renewable energy production since the water surface is also used for cooling the solar panels. This type of cooling sytem keeps the silicon elements used as the semiconductors at a low temperature that not only increases their power generation efficiency, but extends their overall lifespan as well.
Solaris Energy was founded in 2008 as been recently backed by private funds from the US. The company recently received a permit from the Israeli water company to build their first facility near the city of Netivot. The United Kingdom, France, South America, and India have also expressed interest in conducting pilot projects as well.
At this point, Solaris Synergy is not the only energy company in the sea. According to Dr. Elyakim Kassesl, Business Development Manager for the company, “the competition is good for us since it proves that we have a good idea. We just have to show that we are the best.” Now it is just a matter of the company staying afloat until this technology becomes a sustainable option for future energy demands.
-written by Danny Kehoe, Business Development Intern, Spring 2012