The Japanese are seemingly perpetually at the forefront of innovation, and when it comes to environmental consciousness, the island nation is now more exemplary than ever. In a move that will likely be much more effective (and is certainly much cooler) than the Kyoto Protocol, Japanese electronics maker Kyocera Corporation unveiled the world’s largest floating solar power station, which boasts 9,000 solar panels that are fully waterproof and sit comfortably atop the water’s surface.
Operations were officially kicked off on Thursday, and with an estimated production of 2,680 megawatt-hours per year, this enormous floating power source has the capacity to power 820 households. But this floating farm of power is just the prelude to the even larger project to be unveiled near Tokyo, which will be able to provide for the electricity needs of some 5,000 households next year.
As per a report by Korea Water Resources Corporation, the benefits of floating these panels on water come in the form of energy efficiency. The cooling effect of the water beneath the solar cells makes them 11 percent more efficient than those on land, and with the shade that these giant panels provide, they also prevent evaporation and excessive algae growth, making them environmentally friendlier still.
Supposedly, these systems are also remarkably hardy, capable of withstanding winds of up to 118 miles per hour, and are even earthquake proof, obviously a consideration in Japan. And with Japan’s goal of switching entirely to renewable energy sources by 2040, these floating solar panels could be a large step in the right direction.
A number of other countries have taken a page out of the Japanese book, with India, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil, and even Sonoma County, California adopting similar models. As Ichiro Ikeda, a Kyocera spokesman, told the National Geographic, “There is great potential in carrying out solar power generation on these water surfaces.”