When people think about solar panels, a particular image springs to mind: complete suburbia, with each home proudly sporting a solar panel system (installed by us, hopefully!). This is a common image, but you’re just as likely to find photovoltaic technology in stranger places than your nearest suburban neighbourhood.
And, because we like shining a light on the weird and wonderful in the solar community, we’ve compiled our favourites here. In this article, you’ll see some of the world’s strangest, most random spots that use energy from the sun. Take a look!
Japanese golf courses
Apparently, people aren’t as interested in golf as they once were, causing numerous golf courses across the world to shut up shop. This gives solar installers an opportunity to install large-scale solar power plants.
The most well-known examples are in Japan, where the majority of solar developers are seizing the opportunity. According to the Kyoto-based manufacturer Kyocera: “Solar can provide a particularly productive and environmentally friendly use for defunct golf courses.”
It is “expansive land mass, high sun exposure, and a low concentration of shade trees” that makes golf courses such prime land for developers. Who knew?!
On roads and paths in Toulouse, Amsterdam, and Idaho
Projects like SolaRoad and Solar Roadways are essentially making use of elongated stretches of road and pavement by installing solar technology. A 100-metre road on the outskirts of Amsterdam is lined with photovoltaic cells, and the technology has been road-tested (pardon the pun) in the French city of Toulouse.
There has been further research into this phenomenon since. Researchers have found new ways of generating solar power from the pavement. It’s called piezoelectricity, which is where energy is generated from the impact of footsteps! Clever.
A floating solar farm in Walton-on-Thames
Europe’s largest floating solar farm can be found just outside London, in Walton-on-Thames. More than 23,000 photovoltaic panels are floating on the Queen Elizabeth II Reservoir of Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. It’s around the size of eight football pitches, and comes in at around 57,500 square feet.
The project cost £6 million to plan and execute, and has a capacity of 6.3MW (megawatts) – which is enough to power 1,700 homes at peak operating capacity.
The energy-saving potential of this solar farm is impressive: its peak operating capacity equates to saving approximately 2,950 tonnes of carbon emissions each year, or taking 469 cars off the road!
A solar carport in Nottingham
Solar carports are the next big thing for the UK’s solar industry, and Nottingham has taken the lead. Solar carports – turning your average carpark into an energy-storing hub to power buildings and electric cars – are already well established in the US and Europe.
There are round 448 solar panels at the carport, delivering 56 MWhrs (megawatt hours) of electricity each year. This is enough to power 20 homes! We hope to see the rest of the UK follow suit.
The Eiffel Tower
Who knew that there are solar panels on the Eiffel Tower?! Wind turbines too. The famed architectural icon now generates its own renewable energy in a move that hopes to prompt other worldwide landmarks to do the same.
How about your home?
If you’ve thought about solar panels in the past, we can help guide you through the process with all the information you need. Call us on 0800 112 3110 and we can talk through your options – alternatively, fill in our quick enquiry form here.