Happy Friday, you made it. *Virtual high five*
Creativity is the driving force that our society needs to solve the challenges we face. Often times new ideas can be a little threatening and not readily accepted. But, creativity drives change and we need that now, perhaps more than ever.
We’ve all seen solar panels before. What was once a novelty is starting to become relatively commonplace. We have over 2 million solar installations in this country alone. About half of those are on residential properties. American solar panels offset the same amount of C02 as 1.2 billion trees. But, growth of the solar industry is beginning to slow. There are a lot of challenges, one of them being space restriction.
The town of Sayreville, New Jersey understands that problem well. Town engineers wanted to implement solar panels to power their water treatment plant. Doing so would have meant clearing over 15 acres of trees, not exactly the best thing for the planet. So what did they do?
They made them float. The project finished in October and is now the largest floating solar array in North America. Not only will the project save millions of dollars over time, but it will allow engineers and scientists to study the outcome and make future similar projects more efficient.
There might even be some additional benefits to floating solar installations besides providing clean energy and lowering energy costs. Building panels over bodies of water limits potentially harmful algae growth, reduces water evaporation, and provides shade for fish. U.S scientists will now have a chance to collect data on these potential benefits, allowing municipalities justification for similar projects in the future.
Engineers call the project a “trend setter” and the expectation is to see more floating solar installations in the future. If the data shows evaporation is significantly limited by the panels it would be huge news for drought-prone places like California. Farmers could install arrays over irrigation ponds, offsetting energy costs and saving water at the same time.
Floating solar isn’t the only creative solution being implemented around the world to drive change. Many other bright minds are coming up with new and revolutionary projects and ideas that challenge the status quo and inspire countless others to think outside of the box to make the world a better place. But, those are stories for another day.