There are many benefits to floating solar: local and provincial governments can make use of bodies of water like abandoned industrial sites, reservoirs, lakes or flooded sandpits. It cuts some of the costs associated with land-based solar farms (land purchase, clearing, maintenance and insurance against flooding).

But above all: solar cell efficiency on water has greatly improved the last few years, outpacing performances of solar meadows (on land). Whereas commercial solar meadows typically perform at rates of 15 to 18 percent, those on water reach rates above 20 percent.

The reasons for better performance are threefold: the surrounding water body acts as a cooling system that increases the efficiency and lifespan by 15 percent, solar manufacturer Upsolar (Sydney) states. Moreover, solar radiation will come not only from above but also from the reflection of the water. Last but not least, by enabling the floats to rotate with the sun, it is possible to generate 18 percent more energy than panels on a solar meadow, according to the Rotterdam Climate Initiative.

And there are more advantages. Floating solar can also improve water management infrastructure. Evaporation from drought-stricken water reservoirs will be decreased, as the UK daily ‘The Guardian’ recently wrote. Furthermore, since floating solar absorbs the heat of the sun and will reduce water temperature, it inhibits the growth of algae and waterweeds.

It’s therefore no wonder that the Netherlands, country of water and dikes, isn’t lagging behind China, Japan and the UK in floating solar. In the Netherlands, three 100 MW floating solar farms will come online next year.