2022: Techno-ecological Impacts and Synergies of Floating Solar
Exploration and development of industrial floating solar are outpacing scientific understanding of the floating solar-aquatic ecosystem nexus. Floating solar photovoltaic energy can expand solar development from land into water, helping to meet drastically increasing solar energy demand and sparing land for uses besides energy, such as agriculture and conservation.
However, floating solar deployment raises sustainability concerns because it is unclear how floating solar facilities will interact with aquatic ecosystem processes and services and water is far scarcer than land on Earth. Researchers will examine the ecological and biogeochemical effects of floating solar on aquatic ecosystems and answer industry-specific questions pertinent to low-impact, operational floating solar buildout. They will conduct their experiments at a novel, floating-solar research and demonstration site in the Cornell Experimental Ponds Facility. Through collaboration among scientists and solar industry, this project will inform sustainable development practices for real-world floating solar that facilitate win-win scenarios for renewable energy production and aquatic conservation.