Anicet Mbida 06:52, April 10, 2023

Anicet Mbida gives us every morning what is best in innovation. This Monday, he is interested in a new way of installing solar panels, vertically.

The innovation of the day is a new way of installing solar panels. We were used to seeing them flat on rooftops or in fields. We now want to install them vertically.

Solar towers! See Toblerone chocolates? You have to imagine the same thing on 20 or 30 meters high: a three-sided tower covered with solar panels.

Why put them vertically? Simply because it takes up less floor space. We could very well build a solar power plant of one gigawatt (the equivalent of a nuclear reactor), but for that, we would need a floor area of more than 30 km2. The size of a small town! This is what is holding back the development of solar energy today. We do not want to raze forests, cover fields or block building land. With vertical solar, we will have a new option. An option that produces maximum electricity on a minimum of space.

But are the panels as effective vertically?

No, a little less. In addition, as the sun rotates and it is a tower, not all sides can be lit permanently. This is why we chose a three-sided structure. This allows you to have only one in the shade at a time. But despite the lower returns, the game can be worth it. Because according to calculations, for equivalent production, vertical solar would occupy 90% less land, compared to flat solar.

It was the Canadians at Tree Sixty Solar who developed this concept. The first commercial installation will take place next month in Canada.

If it develops, won't it spoil the landscape like wind turbines?

Yes, of course. Which is a problem. It's like having a little glass and steel skyscraper in a field. A mini Montparnasse tower in the countryside...

This will be one of the challenges of this energy transition. Nuclear and coal-fired power plants were virtually invisible because they were set up in remote areas and then the electricity was repatriated. But with solar and wind, production is done in short circuits where we consume. This will make the plants much more visible in our neighbourhoods.