How Water Is Helping Solar To Overcome Land Barriers
Expect to see more solar arrays sitting atop waterways.
That’s because mounting solar panels on structures that float offers a significant advantage in areas where land is scarce. So, the arrays are increasingly popping up in places such as industrial ponds, reservoirs, and small lakes.
The largest floating solar array in North America to date was recently installed in New Jersey. Ciel & Terre USA, in conjunction with Solar Renewable Energy LLC and RETTEW, completed the floating solution that sits on the borough of Sayreville’s pre-treatment water storage pond.
It started about four years ago when officials looking to reduce energy costs and the carbon footprint asked for bids on a solar installation under a power purchase agreement. With land at a premium — as Sayreville is close to New York City — the water storage pond proved to be an ideal opportunity for a floating system.
The new array will reportedly supply all the energy needs for Sayreville’s water treatment plant and meet part of the demand at several other municipal facilities.
In the Netherlands, meanwhile, the Sekdoorn floating solar farm was just completed in six weeks.
The German company BayWa r.e. worked with Dutch partner GroenLeven to build the array, which is expected to produce enough power for 4,000 households while averting about 6,500 tons of CO2 emissions annually. The Sekdoorn project is the largest floating solar installation in the Netherlands and the second largest in Europe to date, following the O’MEGA1 project in France.
BayWa r.e. transferred its system design for ground-mounted installations onto the water and devised its own scheme for the installation of photovoltaics on water surfaces, thereby avoiding typical problems with floating solar farms including improper anchoring, no water movement under the system, and non-existing or insufficient quality of walkways.
The Sekdoorn plant is planned to be fully connected and operating in the first six months of next year. BayWa r.e. is planning to install more floating solar plants next year, including one that it claims will end up being the largest in Europe.