Engineers from the Australian National University have proposed to build a giant floating solar panel system near the equator, which will provide energy for the entire Earth. Their project was published by the scientific journal MDPI.
According to scientists' calculations, Indonesia alone could generate about 35,000 terawatt hours of solar energy per year. This is even more than the current global electricity production (30,000 terawatt hours per year).
The authors of the paper also studied the Earth's climate map and identified the most favorable locations on Earth for the placement of a global system of floating solar panels - the Indonesian archipelagos and the equatorial part of western Africa (near Nigeria). They can also be installed on rooftops, in arid areas, near farmland or on bodies of water. In general, any region where the waves do not rise above 6 meters and the wind does not exceed 15 meters per second is suitable.
According to preliminary calculations, 70 square kilometers of solar panels can meet the needs of at least one million households in a carbon-free economy.
However, such a system has a number of disadvantages compared to its ground-based counterparts. These include salt corrosion and marine fouling by mineral particles or settlements of organisms. In addition, special studies must be carried out before fixing the batteries to minimize damage to the marine environment. And global warming may change wind patterns and render them meaningless.
The question of realization and financing of the project also remains open. The engineers have only described the idea and calculated its efficiency.
Despite all the disadvantages, the scientists note that the transition to renewable energy is inevitable, and their plan could accelerate this beneficial process for all mankind.