A version of this story originally appeared on NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News
By Yinnon Shraga
While solar energy companies throughout the world are competing for the relatively few vast land areas required to house solar farms, Israeli startup Solaris Synergy has found a new terrain to use. Instead of a land-based solar system, the company decided to develop a water-based technology. In other words: a floating solar power plant.
The company’s founders say they realized that the large lands required for thousands of solar panels are nearly impossible to find, especially in a small country like Israel. Solaris Synergy’s Business Development Manager, Dr. Elyakim Kassel, tells NoCamels: “In many countries there is a competition between land for construction and land for large solar farms. Our system comes as a solution to use water surfaces instead of using valuable land.” According to Solaris Synergy, any fresh, salt or waste water surface can be turned into a solar energy platform.
Solaris Synergy’s flagship product is a floating concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) system – a system that concentrates a large amount of sunlight onto a small area to generate electricity by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity. The system features a modular design that supports power output ranging from several kilowatts to dozens of megawatts, depending on size.
According to the company, their solar-on-water solution dramatically lowers the cost of renewable energy production since the water surface is also used for cooling the solar panels. This cooling system keeps the silicon elements used as semiconductors at a low temperature and therfore increases their power generation efficiency and extends their lifespan.
Solaris Synergy was founded in 2008 and awarded an R&D grant from Israel’s National Infrastructures Ministry. The company is also backed by private equity funds in the United States. They recently got a permit from Israeli water company Mekorot to build their first facility near the city of Netivot.
The company says they are currently negotiating pilot projects with companies in the United Kingdom, France, South America and India.
Kassel addresses the challenges his company faces. “The main challenge, at the moment, is lowering the costs. People will not use our technology if it is not cheap enough.” He also admits that “as a small company, if we want to spread our technology around the world, we will have to join a global company.”
Kassel says they are not the only company focusing on energy on water. “The competition is good for us since it proves that we have a good idea. We just have to show that we are the best.”