The next clean energy breakthrough: Solar farms at sea

sledvashtiyat probiv za chista energiya solarnite fermi v moreto

Tossed by waves up to 10 meters high in China's Yellow Sea about 30 kilometers off the coast of Shandong province, two circular rafts carrying neat rows of solar panels began generating electricity late last year. This was a crucial step towards a new breakthrough in clean energy production.

The experiment by State Power Investment Corp., China's largest renewable energy developer, and Norway-based developer Ocean Sun AS is one of the most high-profile tests of offshore solar technology to date. This is a potential advance in the sector that would allow offshore locations to adopt renewable energy sources and help land-limited regions accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels, Bloomberg reported.

Most initial trials of offshore solar have involved small-scale systems, and there are still many challenges to overcome – including higher costs and the effects of corrosive salts or damaging winds. Still, developers are increasingly confident that offshore solar can become an important new segment in renewable energy.

"The application of this is virtually limitless" as many regions have restrictions on land use, including parts of Europe, Africa and Asia along with places like Singapore and Hong Kong, said Ocean Sun CEO Børge Bjørneklett. "In these places, you see that there is a huge interest in this technology."

Shandong, the industrial hub south of Beijing, plans to add more than 11 gigawatts of offshore solar power by 2025 and eventually build 42 gigawatts, more than Norway's current power generation capacity. Neighboring Jiangsu aims to add 12.7 gigawatts, while provinces such as Fujian and Tianjin are also exploring proposals. Japan, the Netherlands and Malaysia are among the other nations preparing their test projects.



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