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Subject : Firm devises world’s first floating solar plant   
Date 2010-10-29 Visit 4166

A Korean venture firm has developed the world’s first floating solar power generation system, which it says will heighten energy efficiency and reduce cost and damage to the environment.

The technology developed by Solkiss uses a photovoltaic cell in a mold specially designed to rotate on a pond or reservoir, the company said.

When the cell catches sunlight, it begins rotating and generating electricity while following the sun’s movement.

The Seoul-based firm said its new invention would increase energy-efficiency by 30 to 40 percent compared to existing solar energy generators.

Unlike conventional cells placed on rooftops, in farmlands and on mountains, it does not need a huge site, thus minimizing impact on the environment, the company added.

The scheme is the outcome of a three-year joint research project the Solkiss engineer team conducted with Chonbuk National University’s New & Renewable Energy Material Development Center in North Jeolla Province, CEO Woo Do-young said.

The firm obtained a domestic patent for the system and applied for international intellectual property rights, he said.

“We’re already in talks with some companies in Southeast Asia for plant exports,” Woo said. “Our main target is overseas markets where demand for renewable energy is growing, virtually all PCT member countries including China and Japan.”

The Patent Cooperation Treaty provides multinational patent laws for its 142 contracting states under administration by the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization.

The solar energy industry has grown at an average 40 percent rate over the past decade worldwide, until global recession hit the market in 2009, according to local think tank LG Economic Research Institute.

Reduced government incentive programs and a slowdown in project financing took away investors’ interests. Steep drops in crude oil prices made the renewable energy uncompetitive further.

The stagnation in demand brought about severe oversupply of solar modules to the industry that had enjoyed high profit margins since 2006. But sudden investment increases and overheated competition led to overall disappointing returns.

While Europe is leaning toward a smaller rooftop installation after the crisis, large economies like the U.S. and China have become key investors in utility-scale projects, striving to catch up with the Europe-led market.

With the growing demand in renewable energy and the worldwide effort to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, the new solar energy generator will provide a breakthrough to the tied-up international market, Woo said.



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