As land availability gets smaller, and the demand for solar energy gets higher, Japan is gearing up to create the biggest floating solar energy plant in terms of output on a huge dam to the east of Tokyo.
Floating solar panels aren't new, but their higher rates of use recently should be noted. Particularly in an area like Japan, where the risk of certain natural disasters has proven somewhat higher. Plus, a giant, artificial contraption can't just be dropped into a local water supply without taking some care to ensure that water quality will not be affected. The company in charge of installing this floating mass, Terre et Ciel, has even stated that different types of floating panels should be used depending on the environment.
So, what's going to be the result? There have already been many studies about how solar panels may not be as green as we think they are (there are still some issues with recycling them, in addition to the effect that the space they take up on land or in water has).
Personally, I can think of some problems, but when I think of where these could be used, I think of reservoirs. Why? They're manmade structures often aimed at energy creation, and they often forbid boating, making them ideal. While they do support some wildlife, their man-made origin makes it more likely that they could be repurposed for this. Even with the drawbacks of solar energy, it's still much cleaner than the majority of our energy currently.
While I'm not sure of the overall efficiency of a system like this, I think it's a pretty cool idea. Imagine being able to get our energy from solar every farms floating on salt water! I also wonder how this compares as far as energy creation to the wave energy systems being tested off the coast of Scotland, which were touted to produce enough energy for the entire British Isles?