9,000 solar panels sitting on top of the water to power surrounding homes near Japan's Yamakura Dam (via Kyocera & JapanTimes)

Conserving power and energy is still a big issue people around the world are trying to find solutions to. Most turn to solar power, which can power a number of different things, but the panels are usually built into or on top of the object it's trying to run. Japan has a different technique when it comes to solar power.


The Kyocera Corporation recently revealed the world's biggest floating solar power station on a reservoir of Japan's Yamakura Dam in Chiba prefecture, which uses 9,000 waterproof panels that sit right on top of the water's surface. With an estimated production of 2,680 megawatt-hours per year, this massive power station has the capacity to power 820 households. The station measures 333 meters in length and 77 meters in width making it around 25,000 square miles. It will also decrease nearly 8,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. This is only the first step in a larger project to revealed near Tokyo that will be able to power about 5,000 homes next year. Right now, the energy it produces will be sold to Kansai Electric Power in Osaka for about 96 million Yen ($780,000).


It seems unconventional to build these solar panels on top of water, but a lot of benefits come with it. Since the panels are on water, it frees up the surrounding land for agricultural use, conservation, and other development. They'll also help prevent excess heat in the panels making them 11 percent more efficient than land based ones. The shade provided by the panels will also prevent excess algae growth and evaporation. The station is also very sturdy since it is capable of withstanding winds up to 118 miles per hour and are even earthquake proof. But the floating station also presents some new issues.


Since the panels sit directly on top of the water, everything needs to be waterproofed, such as the wiring. Regulations on water quality also have to be taken into consideration since this artificial object is sitting in a natural resource. Ichiro Ikedea, the general manager of Kyocera's solar energy marketing division, responded to the possible problem by saying “That is one reason we chose Ciel et Terre's floating platforms, which are 100 percent recyclable and made of high-density polyethylene that can withstand ultraviolet rays and corrosion.”


Still, the floating water station in a step in the right direction when it comes to Japan's goal of entirely switching to renewable energy sources by 2040. Japan isn't the only country to get on board with floating solar panels. India, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil, and Sonoma County, California are currently using similar models in hopes of using an alternative energy source.



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