Looking to un-loch solar energy potential

Tue, 01 Jun 2021 10:02:00 BST
A GCU team will map potential sites to host floating solar panels
A GCU team will map potential sites to host floating solar panels

Scotland's vast lochs may hold the key to future solar energy production, according to researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University.

A team from the University’s School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment has secured funding to help energy company AES Solar map sites across Scotland that could have the potential to host floating solar panels.

The researchers say that while solar is one of the cheapest forms of energy it requires large amounts of space to implement – even more so in Scotland where solar potential is limited and the rugged terrain makes large-scale deployment more difficult.

Dr George Loumakis, who is leading the study, said: “By using water bodies such as lochs, we can gain precious space and help Scotland reach its renewable energy targets. During the three-month study, we will investigate the potential of floating solar-energy deployment in Scotland and whether it can be a better alternative to land-based solar energy systems.”

The researchers will use Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping technology to study the waterways, looking for factors such as proximity to infrastructure, accessibility for construction and maintenance, and proximity of electricity loads.

Dr Loumakis, who will be assisted by PhD student Spyridonas Angeli, said: “The reality is that only small amounts of water space would be used and only in instances where they don’t impede with other activities.

“As for how they would look, they are completely subjective and, again, they would only take up a small amount of space.

“For people worried about visuals – and that’s a common argument against renewable energy systems – the counterargument would be whether a coal or gas power station would look better? At the end of the day, we need energy and we somehow have to find a way to produce it – and solar is one of the cleanest and cheapest forms out there.”