Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

May 25

Floating Solar Island Concept

Posted in Energy Inventions | Future Technology | Solar Power

Solar Island Remember the Solar Lily Pads? Well, Swiss inventor Thomas Hinderling has taken that idea to the next level with his solar islands concept (check out the video). The 5km wide, 20m height island concept would be mobile and would adjust according to the sun’s movement across the sky. Each island would generate hundreds of kilowatts of electricity that would be almost five times cheaper than current electricity rates. A company called CSEM is financing construction of a prototype this year in the United Arab Emirates, and they are hopeful that full production of these islands could begin as soon as 2011.

Advantages of Solar Islands

5 times lower cost per kWh than competing systems, because:

  • Extremely simple low-cost EFC type panels can be used.
  • Alignment achieved by simply turning the platform (no costly precision mechanics), the active area of panels can be more than 95% of the available area.
  • Very low sensitivity to wind, so that high up times are feasible.
  • The platforms are hovering, therefore very large platforms can be build.
  • The thermal principle allows to store energy, so energy can also be supplied at night.
  • The active area of panels can be more than 95% of the available area.

Additional Advantages of Solar Islands on the Sea

Typically near the equator where the solar irradiation is very intense.

  • Water, needed to generate hydrogen and cooling is available in abundance.
  • Combination with water desalination is easily possible through collection and passive evaporation.
  • In international waters, prime locations are open to all nations.
  • The platforms can “follow the sun”, gaining 15% of efficiency.
  • Mister Chandu

    Solar Islands float because the Sun is pure,
    And we know what else floats to be sure!

    Katrina type storms would sink these.

    Think tidal!

  • Bob Wallace

    Another design by someone who hasn’t gotten their power from solar and doesn’t understand alignment and cleaning.

    And by someone who hasn’t spent appreciable time living on the ocean and doesn’t understand wind, waves, and salt corrosion.

  • Manaf

    Great Concept. The structures could be flexible and built in calm gulf regions where hurricanes don’t usually occur. What about the marine life under these structures which will get no sunlight, I assume.

  • http://none Edgar

    There’s a lot of negatives…

    1) Corrosion, not just from the salt and water, also bio corrosion from bacterias and microorganisms.

    2) The ocean is not a flat surface that stands still the tubing will not stand a lot of movement.

    3) Heat transfer. The ocean is a lot colder than the steam so if the steam looses heat it can change phase, so you’ll loose the high entalpy steam, and in the worst case if the temp lowers you’ll loose pressure which could be less than the pressure of the column of water above the tube and collapse…

    Solution by me: I don’t really see the point of putting money into this, really, I’ll put it in a large dry salt lake/dessert where heat is free and sunlight is just the same 🙂

  • David Adams

    I have an idea that is a similar and could work in conjunction with this project. I would appreciate being able to talk to someone in control of the floating solar pad.

  • Ethan T

    I also agree with Edgar on the point that transferring the steam underwater would significantly reduce the pressure of the steam.
    However, I also had a question on solar panels in general. Is it possible to have a field of solar panels producing electricity within the panels(solar cells) while, at the same time, reflecting the sunlight on a pipe (like above) vaporizing the water into pressurized steam? Resulting in two systems working off one field of solar panels?

  • shankarvodela

    I feel proud as I am part of UAE residential Solar islands are going to start in RAK, God bless the Ruler of RAK for taking initiative and I am sure others will follow. A great breakthrough in Electricity generation in UAE.


  • Sebastian

    I agree with everyone else that this idea has a lot of holes, but non of them are insurmountable. I could think of a solution for every problem listed so I’m pretty sure a couple hundred engineers already have a pretty good idea on how to get this idea afloat.

  • chris

    When the steam is pumped through pipes in the ocean to the turbines, won’t a lot of it condense?

    I wonder how less effective solar cells would be?

  • Ray

    Congatulations. Your the first person to invest in making a film about a concept that first hit the press over 50 years ago!!
    Just saying that its not an original concept.
    But I still like it!!
    I also have similar plans for a floating array to be built here in Australia.
    Just cant get the funding!!

    Good luck.

  • Disnei

    Did you developed the floating cell to work on pool ?

  • Arno A. Evers

    As a native Hamburger, please remember that sea water is rather aggressive and can also dirty the surface of the PC cells, which will decrease their efficiency fast.

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