The EU Joint Research Centre’s (JRC) latest report on droughts in Europe predicts that summer 2023 will be even drier than last year. The situation in Spain, northern Italy, and France particularly raises ‘concerns for water supply for human use, agriculture, and energy production.’
Harsh drought conditions are already being seen in regions in Southern Spain, as Spain’s significant reservoir capacity is at record low levels, and canals are running dry. With the country’s water reserves 50% below capacity and drought affecting 80% of the Spanish countryside, Spain is facing a national emergency.
This problem might be tackled by finding new models of using, reusing, and conserving water; this is where Agrisolar and floating solar power comes in.
Agrisolar is a rapidly expanding sector with a huge potential. It effectively brings together two major sectors of our society and economy: agriculture and energy. Land is used for both agricultural production and photovoltaic (PV) power generation. With agriculture being particularly vulnerable to climate change, solar technologies can be seamlessly integrated into nature-positive solar sites, including dual land-use project types like onshore floating PV and Agri-PV.
Floating solar power offers further relief. Applied directly on the surface of artificial water bodies, like reservoirs, floating solar is taking off across Europe. EDP, the main Portuguese utility company, has built the largest floating solar park in Europe on the Alqueva Reservoir. It consists of 12,000 solar panels and is the length of four football pitches. These solar panels are directly preventing excessive water evaporation. One 2021 study analyzing floating panels on water reservoirs found that evaporation was reduced by 42%. In a win-win situation, floating panels can be up to 10-15% more efficient because of water cooling.