Environmental Impacts of Floating Solar Panels on Water Bodies
There has been a global trend of increasing deployment of floating solar panels (floatovoltaics) on water bodies over the last few years. Drivers for this have included potential reduction in evaporation and the desire to decarbonize electricity production. Given these environmental motivations, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the impact that floatovoltaics will have on the water body ecosystem itself, despite the many environmental goods and services which water bodies provide. Here we show how the reductions in wind speed, solar radiation and water-air connectivity accompanying floatovoltaic deployment can affect lake physics, particularly water temperature and stratification. These results will be discussed in the context of cascading impacts on the chemistry and ecology of the water body, including algal dynamics and greenhouse gas release. The results demonstrate the need to make judicious decisions on floatovoltaic deployment to ensure that environmental benefits are maximized and deleterious effects minimized.