World’s largest solar plant at sea is installed at Maldives resort

September 4, 2019 by  
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There’s more than sunbathers and yachts floating near the resort Lux* South Ari Atoll in the Maldives. The five-star property, located on the beautiful island of Dhidhoofinolhu, called on SwimSol to provide its patented SolarSea system, the world’s largest solar power plant at sea, to help power the island resort. The SolarSea technology helps gather solar energy to power the island and can withstand the often brutal conditions caused by waves, storms and saltwater. Related: The largest solar farm apiary in the US opens for business “Innovation is key to achieving true sustainability , and we are happy to partner with Swimsol to work toward our goal of minimizing our ecological footprint,” said Jonas Amstad, general manager at Lux* South Ari Atoll. Solar energy is not a new concept to the resort , as it was already using a Swimsol rooftop system before deciding to go beyond its shores with 12 SolarSea platforms on the sea. The floating solar panels are not only saving money but reducing the resort’s carbon footprint . The property’s solar capacity increased by 40 percent and reached 678 kWp — enough to power all of the resort’s guest villas at peak times. Lux* South Ari Atoll is saving more than 260,000 liters of diesel annually, an amount that was once needed to produce the same amount of power via combustion engines. Guests can get involved, too, by viewing a live “solar tracker” available in the villas that shows the energy produced, diesel saved and carbon dioxide emissions saved. Visitors aren’t the only benefactors of solar at the resort; the floating solar platforms offer shelter to young fish. Because the platforms float, they are also able to stay well above the coral reefs and seabed dwellers. With the SolarSea system just off of the shore, Lux* South Ari Atoll can boast that it is now home to the largest solar plant at sea. The resort isn’t stopping there — it is already looking to increase its future solar capacity. + Swimsol Via The Island Chief Images via Swimsol

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World’s largest solar plant at sea is installed at Maldives resort

Ireland will plant 440 million trees in 20 years

September 4, 2019 by  
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Ireland is about to get a whole lot greener. The 84,431-square-kilometer country is determined to fight climate change by planting 440 million trees by 2040; 70 percent will be conifers and the remainder broad-leaf. The initiative is part of Ireland’s larger goal to become carbon-neutral by 2050. Ireland has the lowest forest cover of all European countries — about 11 percent compared to an average of more than 30 percent. Some say planting additional trees could be the answer, while others aren’t completely sold. Related: Scientists confirm tree planting is our best solution to climate change In June, the Irish government said it was going to start planting more trees in its fight against climate change and to reduce carbon emissions, but it never said how many trees it would plant. Now, the government has come up with a specific number. “The target for new forestation is approximately 22 million trees per year,” a spokesperson for the Department of Communications Climate Action and Environment said . “Over the next 20 years, the target is to plant 440 million.” In order to make the tree planting initiative work, Ireland needs farmers to plant more trees on their properties. The problem is that this is not a popular idea among farmers . The government hopes to try to change these opinions by offering local meetings to garner support for reforestation. Other people in Ireland are also against planting more trees. For instance, Pádraic Fogarty of the Irish Wildlife Trust is not on board. “People are not good at planting trees, and trees do not like being planted. They prefer to plant themselves,” Fogarty told The Irish Independent . Rather than handing out around 94 million euros ($103 million) in forestry grants, the government should pay farmers to plant nothing and let their properties regrow on their own, Fogarty suggested. An earlier study explained that planting more than 500 billion trees was the “most effective” solution to combating climate change. Those opposed to the tree planting initiative say reforestation will not reduce greenhouse gases enough, and other ideas should be implemented. Planting trees is not a foreign concept when trying to address the climate crisis, as other countries have grabbed their shovels and dug in. For example, Ethiopia and Scotland have been successful in their efforts to plant more trees for reforestation and fight global warming . Via EcoWatch , The Irish Times and The Irish Independent Image via KML

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Ireland will plant 440 million trees in 20 years

How floating solar panels are helping the Maldives ditch diesel fuel

March 29, 2018 by  
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Tropical islands might boast pure natural scenery, but their energy sources are often anything but pure. Many power-hungry resorts in the Maldives rely on diesel, a notorious pollutant, for their energy needs. Swimsol , a solar power company based in Austria, is working to change that. Because many of the islands in the Maldives are tiny — you can walk across some of them in under 10 minutes — there isn’t much space for solar power , but Swimsol has solved the problem by turning to the seas. Inhabitat caught up with founder and managing director Martin Putschek to find out more. Sunshine is plentiful in the Maldives; land, not so much. To make matters more challenging, rooftop solar has limited potential – tropical buildings often aren’t made for bearing heavy loads like buildings in colder locations that must withstand snow. “But what you have is huge atolls, around 10 to 20 kilometers wide, roughly. You’ve got the outer reef around this atoll and inside this outer reef, it’s a little like a lake,” Putschek told Inhabitat. After a business trip to the Maldives, the idea came to him while practicing the violin: what if he could install floating solar panels on that water? Related: The Netherlands plans 26,910-square-foot floating solar farm at sea Swimsol’s SolarSea systems are the result of that spark of inspiration – and their first commercial pilot has been operating for just over three years. Solar panels are mounted atop a patent-pending marine-grade aluminum alloy framework designed to let waves pass through. The system, which the company says will last 30 years or more, can withstand waves of around six and a half feet high and winds of around 75 miles per hour. Each platform, which is about 46 by 46 feet, can power around 25 households. Swimsol says the systems assemble much like IKEA furniture, and three people could build one platform on a beach in under a day — no heavy machinery or welding necessary. And it turns out solar panels drifting on the sea are actually more productive than those on land, thanks to water’s cooling effect. “We measured the temperature difference between solar panels on a roof and on a floating structure which were installed very close to each other, like 200 meters apart, and at lunch time you can see a temperature difference of 20 degrees,” Putschek told Inhabitat. He said they can obtain as much as 10 percent more power from floating panels, depending on the time of day. But do floating solar panels impact marine life? Putschek said they clearly need to keep systems away from coral reefs , which need sunlight. Fortunately, there are swaths of water with sandy seabeds where they can install solar. “Regarding the fish , they actually like it. They like the shade and places where they can hide. The whole thing serves as a fish-aggregating device, which is a term for floating platforms with no purpose other than just attracting fish. Ours are solar platforms, but that’s a side effect,” Putschek said. He said corals even grow on the platforms, turning them into artificial reefs. Right now, Swimsol is not selling the floating systems, but the electricity they produce — and they’re able to sell it cheaper than diesel, without a government-subsidized feed-in tariff. “We installed a little over a megawatt last year. This year we’re probably installing about three or so, and in terms of money that’s between $3 and $6 million,” Putschek said. They’re planning a crowdfunding campaign in Austria and Germany in a couple of months, and are looking for a strategic partner for further growth and to help them get access to more funding. “If you install one kilowatt of solar, so that’s four panels, you can save 400 liters of diesel a year. So 100 kilowatts would be 40,000 liters; one megawatt would be 400,000 liters. The point is, it makes sense to go big,” said Putschek. “The idea would be to install dozens of megawatts because the space is there, the need is there. In 2014, the Maldives spent one fifth of their gross domestic product on fuel. That means every hour you work, 12 minutes you only work for diesel. People talk about tidal energy or wind energy and that’s all fantastic but it doesn’t work in the tropics. In the Caribbean, yes; there you have wind. But in the Maldives or Singapore you don’t have enough wind, and you also don’t have big waves. The renewable energy of choice is solar. Because what they do have is a lot of sun. They also have a lot of sea. We’re just combining the two.” + Swimsol Images courtesy of Swimsol

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How floating solar panels are helping the Maldives ditch diesel fuel

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