More Efficient Photovoltaic Plants with Smaller Environmental Impact

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More Efficient Collection of Solar Radiation

Concentrators in an FTCC plant. Photo by Scienza Industria Tecnologia.

The floating platforms of the FCTT plants can be easily oriented in a particular direction; this allows them to be moved slightly in the direction of the sun (Tracking). In this way, more solar radiation can be collected, increasing the amount of energy produced.

To increase radiation collected, a system of reflectors (Concentrators) is placed at the side of the panels. In addition, the use of the concentrators has an effect on the cost of the panels; the concentrators are made of aluminium, a material that is much cheaper than the silicon (or the other materials) employed in the solar cells. This means that a PV panel with higher efficiency can be made without using more silicon.

Cooling the Solar Panels

The water of the basins/reservoirs where the FTCCs are located can be used to cool down the panels and avoid their overheating; this is achieved with a system of sprinklers. This can improve the efficiency of the PV panels and lead to an increase in the energy production by up to 10%. Furthermore, the thermal stress the panels undergo to is significantly decreased; this makes the life cycle of the panel longer.

FTCC Plant at Work

Professor Marco Rosa-Clot, CEO of Scienza Industria Tecnologia, has built the plant in collaboration with Koinè Multimedia, and tells Decoded Science more about the FTCC plant.

The first FCTT power plant started working in 2011 near Pisa (central Italy); it has a power of 30 kWp. We calculated that it can produce about 75% more energy, in comparison with a ground plant. These calculations were made for the latitude of Pisa, but the advantage could be even greater in other areas with more sun irradiation, such as the south of Italy.

At the moment, two more plants, of 20 and 100 kWp respectively, are being built in Korea, using our system.

Our aim is to optimize the FTCC system and make floating PVs able to generate electricity that is cheaper than that generated from oil or natural gas. We hope to achieve this by 2013, we are working on it.”

Improving Solar Power Production Through Innovation

Solar power has a great deal of potential as a power source, but the common drawbacks that come along with the utilization of PV cells, such as costly materials, overheating, and environmental impact, tend to reduce the efficiency of PV plants. Innovations such as the FTCC Photovoltaic plant and improvements in materials go a long way towards making the renewable energy of solar radiation a more viable power source for the future.

Sources

Scienza Industria Tecnologia. FTCC Photovoltaic Plant. (2011). Accessed January 2012.

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