Solar energy production is growing. It’s getting better, cheaper, and looking like a stronger contender in alternative energy solutions for nations around the world.

If there’s one major hinderance to utilizing solar panels, however, it’s that they require large flat surfaces in order to fully function and harness enough energy to justify their initial investment.

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In a place like Japan, that’s a real challenge. The small, mountainous, and heavily populated nation uses a lot of energy, much of which it has to import.

It’s not the most sustainable model, not only in terms of carbon, but also economics. That doesn’t mean Japan is ready to give up on solar as a renewable energy solution. If they can’t easily install panels on land, why not do so on water?

Buoyant And Powerful
That’s the basis of a new project for the Koycera Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation. The two companies have now begun work on what is said to be the world’s most productive floating solar installation.

To be comprised of 15,000 individual solar modules, the installation will float in the reservoir of the Yamakura Dam in the Chiba Prefecture just outside Tokyo. Expected to be operation in 2018, the floating solar farm will cover 180,000 square meters and have capacity of 13.7 megawatts.

The Answer To A Major Energy Need?
The new solar resource is hoped to provide a major supplement to Japan’s present energy production problem. As of early 2015, the nation was only producing 9% of the energy it uses, a result of  very limited indigenous coal and gas resources and tenuous nuclear power production in recent years.

Following the devastating Fukushima plant incident of 2011, all nuclear power stations were taken offline and only some have been brought back on. Japan gets the vast majority of its energy from imports of liquefied natural gas, and is currently the world’s biggest customer of that resource.

More Floating Farms In The Future?

Renewable energy technologies could help Japan gain a little more energy independence, but they’re not the only nation making big investments in innovative solar panel installations.

The United Kingdom started construction on Europe’s largest floating solar farm this past fall. With their ease of assembly compared to ground installations, perhaps we’ll see more floating solar panels put to use in the growing number of places where space may be limited but energy needs are pressing.

What are your thoughts on this approach to sustainable energy?

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