Eight years ago, Google embarked on an ambitious plan to create a wind energy project in the Atlantic Ocean. While the progress of this project has been rather slow, the company did not relent and continued with its plan to foray into the energy industry. In line with this strategy, Google recently announced its first water-based renewable energy project through installation of solar panels atop a series of fishing ponds in Taiwan. This may be seen to mark Google's entry into the Asian renewable energy market.
Although this project is in a pretty small scale, Google became the first company to make a purchase under the 2017 Taiwan Electricity Act for the 10-megawatt solar array in Tainan City, Taiwan. ‘Flotovoltaics,’ or building solar projects sited on water, is fast gaining popularity following the lead of Japan that built its first photovoltaic installation in 2007.
The Company is currently focusing on poles that will hold the solar panels, a concept known as a "canopy" system. Google’s position on building the solar plans directly on fish farms, as it’s expected to optimize ‘shade’ which could be key in boosting fishing yields. The reason being elevated panels provide optimal room for fish while also providing them with shade.
U.S is currently focussing on floating solar projects as it finds itself lagging behind Asia in embracing the technology. Case in point: 11.6-megawatt floating solar power plant at the Van Norman Lakes Reservoir that just received an approval from Los Angeles. This is supposed to be the biggest in the U.S.
Major reasons for the floating solar projects taking off at an accelerated rate in Asia are high population density and competition for available land. Google’s 10-megawatt project in Taiwan is expected to be completed by 2020.