Current Affairs
Exploring the possibility of generating solar energy at sea

As a result of enormous land limitations required for solar farms, MCAST in conjunction with the National Council for Science and Technology continues to experiment on solar farms in the sea around Malta for the generation of solar energy. MCAST said that this project was also helping students carry out their course research.

Large stretches of sea that surround the islands could make up for the lack of land for solar panels to generate solar power. However, the sea posed greater challenges than land, due to the current, sea transport and the effects of waves on these structures. On the other hand, solar panels at sea could be more effective at the height of the summer season. All this is being analysed in the research being carried out by MCAST using a photovoltaic panel system at sea which will be tried after the summer.

Engineer Stephen Sammut – Director of Engineering and Transport at MCAST said that the first system which was installed in Easter a year ago inside a tuna cage in the sea off the coast of Comino, was already yielding the first results. MCAST has therefore worked on a more robust system that will put it into the sea this November.

“The system as it is, is designed to be scaleable, it is a modular system with added panels for increased energy.”

He added that the energy from such a system could be used in offshore installations including the aquaculture industry. He said that if the system was big enough it could also be connected to the national grid.

“One of the advantages of having a system inside the sea is thatthe panels are cooled by sea water. When the sea water cools the panels, these are more efficient in their operation.”

To be able to compare the efficiency of panels at sea to others on land, MCAST which is carrying out the project in partnership with private entities, which is being financed by the Malta Council for Science and Technology, has also installed photovoltaic panels on the reverse osmosis plant in Cirkewwa. Engineer Sammut concluded by saying that this project involved MCAST students from different courses.

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