What If the Ocean was Covered with Solar Panels? | Unveiled

what if we cover the ocean with solar panels with the planets future at stake switching to renewable energy has never been more important and solar power is usually put forward as one of the best options so far plans for solar farms have mostly taken shape across sprawling expanses of open land but the majority of Earth's surface area is actually covered by water so what happens if we turn our attention instead toward the sea this is unveiled and today we're answering the extraordinary question what if we covered the ocean with solar panels are you a fiend for facts argue constantly curious then why not subscribe to unveiled for more Clips like this one and ring the bell for more fascinating content solar energy is much more powerful and versatile than its given credit for since its commercial introduction in the 1950s the quality of solar panels has only gotten better while the cost to build and install them has drastically reduced over the last few decades and is continuing to fall looking into the future solar energy is set to get even more efficient and cost effective as it bids to become Earth's leading energy type soon we could see every new built house fitted with solar panels as standard we could be driving solar powered cars with panels on the roof tops and even our devices could find themselves fueled by the Sun thanks to the advent of solar phone cases admittedly the tech does seem to work best in sunnier locations but solar devices are increasingly built to adapt to overcast conditions as well as manufacturers look to sidestep changes in the environment to achieve a steady and reliable energy source the oceans cover more than 70% of the planet's surface meaning that equipping the entire ocean with solar panels would be like covering Earth's entire landmass more than twice over imagine what the world would look and be like if every square foot of land was in some way solar paneled now double that mental image and that's what we're talking about in terms of sheer energy output it'd be so vast it's almost impossible to quantify it using even moderate solar panels by today's standards we wouldn't have to worry about power shortages for hundreds or maybe even thousands of years the move would completely eliminate the need for fossil fuels and other renewables with specialists working around the clock day by day to update and approve the performance our solar sees we'd be taking a clean reliable affordable energy solution and maximizing it to produce enough power and electricity for everyone in every corner of the world and yet the plan comes with plenty of downsides so many downsides in fact that actually achieving it would be almost completely impossible and totally irresponsible first of all though they're designed to process sunlight the endless sheet of panels would block out all of the sunlight that ordinarily gets into the ocean causing havoc for ocean life in the seas as they are sunlight is vital even all the way down to the point where it can no longer reach helping coral to grow and ensuring the creatures survive the sun's rays also serve to heat up the ocean so cover it with solar panels and we'd also drastically cool tropical waters destroying delicate ecosystems but it it'd be more than just the lack of the sun's power that had caused problems large ocean dwelling mammals like whales or dolphins need to reach the surface to breathe but they'd now be trapped by a barrier of men made tech from the outside looking in fish eating seabirds wouldn't be able to get to their food any more perhaps we'd see certain species set up a new home on the panel's themselves but even allowing for a degree of adaptation the conversion to solar seas could easily trigger the extinction of thousands of species despite the almost limitless power it had generate for us it wouldn't be great for humans either mostly because we wouldn't be able to use boats anymore we wouldn't be able to fish or at least our fishing methods would be severely limited we wouldn't have container ships for industry or cruise ships for tourism and even eco-friendly sailing boats would quickly be a thing of the past for international trade and travel we'd find ourselves either having to rely on car like vehicles that travel across the panel's or on air travel which may or may not be solar-powered the good news is that back in the here-and-now the scientists working on solar tech are doing so with sustainability and conservation in mind after all the main drive for developing solar panels in the first place is to build a greener future the other good news is that if we ever did want to build solar farms at seat we wouldn't need to cover the whole ocean to get enough energy not even close the energy specialists Mehran Mowlam has already boldly claimed that covering just 1% of the Sahara Desert about 43,000 square miles with solar panels could generate enough power to the current global energy usage per year which is more than seventeen terawatts forty-three thousand square miles is an even tinier fraction of the total area served by our oceans though which in some places can gain just as much sunlight as the desert does in fact heading for the water might actually be a better option than targeting something like the Sahara at all a forty three thousand square miles solar farm in the desert effectively sacrifices that entire portion of land and habitat leaving it uninhabitable for any creature that previously called it home however were we to take the same number of solar panels and widely spread them into smaller clusters across the sea then the localized impact could be reduced sure to take a massive global effort to manage the logistics of it and there would still be justifiable environmental concerns but we'd need simply write off anywhere chosen to host solar panels so smaller farms dotted across the world might be the answer but is it even possible to build panels fit for the ocean traditionally they're large heavy and easy to break so is water really the best place for them well floating solar or FPV floating photovoltaic is a very real venture the first patents for fpv tech were filed as recently as 2008 but it's developed a lot since then and there already are various examples where large bodies of water like artificial lakes and reservoirs have been fitted with fpv the conditions for these pre-existing projects are usually gentler more manageable and much more predictable than they would be on the wide open ocean but advocates say successful reservoir setups prove the potential throw in the financial viability reduce safety risks and the fact that should they require its solar panels or decommissioned simply by switching them off and removing them from the water and fpv becomes more and more appealing the biggest barrier for widespread fpv panels though is the ocean itself they so far haven't been thoroughly tested against strong tides or currents which could first prove destructive and costly and second turn broken dislodged panels into extra unwanted man-made sea pollutants structures known as Helia floats are being developed to combat the problem though with the first prototypes being developed in Austria their large 300-foot slabs of photovoltaic cells that are capable of taking on and reacting to the water which allows the panels they support to rise and fall in time with the sea because of the way they're designed even in a worst-case scenario and a Helio float sinks it had caused minimal damage and be easy to recover for better or worse it wouldn't inflict any permanent effects on the landscape of course there are other exciting solar power developments going on to the race for water foundation for example tours the globe raising awareness of sustainable energy practice vo large boat that's completely powered by renewables mostly solar there are also plans to make solar windows a mainstay in urban and rural areas as soon as we can develop solar screens transparent enough to see through meanwhile we can even one day build whole roads out of solar panels although early attempts haven't proven successful so far sea based solar farms seem a shoo-in for our future though turning Earth's vast expanses of water into viable renewable energy centers while covering the entire ocean would definitely be detrimental to life on Earth it would never be necessary according to more optimistic plans we can harvest more than enough of the sun's energy by tactically installing floating panels in multiple locations with minimal upheaval to local ecosystems or the wider environment and that's what would happen if we covered the ocean with solar panels what do you think is there anything we missed let us know in the comments check out these other clips from unveiled and make sure you subscribe and ring the bell for our latest content

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