A study by researchers in the US and Brazil shows that solar panels can be used, in addition to producing green energy, to prevent fresh water evaporating from lakes, reservoirs or ponds.
A 130 kW floating solar panel system was installed for the experiment. The array was mounted in a reservoir, with an area of 8.5 square kilometres and an average depth of 6.5 metres, in the state of Paraná. The system occupies 1,265 square metres at the water surface and includes 395 polycrystalline photovoltaic modules.
In this reservoir, the water evaporation rate has been reduced by 60%.
According to the researchers, a 5 MW system can save enough water each year (16,000 cubic metres) for the consumption of 196 people in Parana.
Moreover, the electricity generated by the solar farm used in the experiment is enough to cover the needs of 2,563 people in the area, where the average annual per capita consumption is 1.95 kWh.
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The study, published in the journal Energies, was carried out by researchers at Ponta Grossa State University (Brazil) and the University of Louisiana (USA).
Solar panels don’t just produce green energy. They have other advantages too
Mounting floating photovoltaic systems has other advantages too. They can be installed close to hydropower plants, significantly reducing infrastructure costs, and do not take up land that can be used for other purposes.
Research has shown that ground-mounted solar panels also have benefits. The systems can increase crop yields for certain types of plants.
Worldwide, more than two billion people live in areas where access to water is difficult. The problem is set to get worse because of global warming. UNICEF estimates that by 2025 half the world’s population could lose direct access to safe drinking water.