Singapore, located at the southern end of the Malay peninsular, is anxious to take advantage of the abundant sunshine it receives to make clean renewable solar power. But there’s a problem. The small nation-state does not have a lot of land available for solar farms. Instead, it is investigating the use of floating solar panels. In fact, once it has achieved its goals, it will boast the largest floating solar panel installation in the world.

Singapore authorities have begun testing ten different solar panels systems to see which will be selected for the final project. When complete, it will cover all or parts of 17 reservoirs and other bodies of water. The testing is designed to do more than determine which panels are the most efficient. It is also looking to answer questions about what effect covering the surface of the water will have on evaporation, the temperature of the water, and the impact surface shading may have on the aquatic creatures who live in the water. Reducing evaporation is important to Singapore, which has a limited supply of fresh water for its citizens.

The Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore will help in the evaluation of the different systems being used in the floating solar panels. The institute will work together with Singapore’s Economic Development Board and its Public Utilities Board, which is the primary agency behind the project. Total cost of the system is expected to be $11 million. Altogether, there are eight local and international entities participating in the floating solar panel project.

“Given our geography, solar photovoltaic systems are a key technology in Singapore’s efforts to harness renewable energy. Floating photovoltaic systems, those installed over our water bodies, not only help to overcome land constraints but also have the potential to reduce evaporative losses from our reservoirs,” says Masagos Zulkifli, the minister of Singapore’s Environment and Water Resources, as reported by Mental Floss.

Singapore is much known for being a leader in environmental policy. It is the first nation to promote the idea of covering the exterior of buildings with gardens and green walls. That idea has spread to many other parts of the world, including the United States.  Floating solar panel farms have been tried elsewhere but Singapore will take the idea to the next level as it seeks sustainable strategies to power its economy.