We've already talked about this giant floating solar thermal power plant that the UAE has its eyes on. But now a new kind of solar island is floating down the river of possibility. Peter Richardson's Solar Lily Pad proposal for the International Design Awards ‘Land and Sea’ competition, pulled in first prize and the city of Glasgow seems to be seriously considering making the proposal a reality.
Some would say that there's plenty of space in cities for distributed solar power on roofs. However, this isn't entirely true. Solar thermal plants, which focus the sun's rays to create extreme heat in order to turn turbines, cannot be used in cities. Because of the extreme heat, and the danger of someone stumbling across (or into) one of them, they have to be carefully guarded and separated from passersby.
However, I'm not sure if Richardson wants to use photovoltaics or solar thermal. If he wants to use photovoltaics, then I don't really see the advantage, aside from having large areas of contiguous, in-city solar potential. In America, we find that on the roof of the local Wal-Mart...not in our rivers.
I would want some assurance that the River Clyde would not be harmed in any way. I'm not familiar with Scotland's ecology, but it seems pretty obvious that the water temperature would be lowered by this project, potentially impacting the species that live in the river.
The solar pads would be rotated throughout the day, so that the slanted panels could track the sun, and power would be delivered to shore via tethers. Glasgow's city council is considering a small pilot project in conjunction with the Glasgow Science Centre. If that ever gets off the ground, you know EcoGeek will let you know.
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