With increased population and decreased land availability, it is becoming difficult to acquire land for solar farms. But with present climate conditions and rapidly increasing emissions rate, the shift to renewable energy cannot be delayed further. Understanding the need of the hour and to reduce their co2 footprint Del-Co chooses floating solar panels for their reservoirs in North Central Ohio with D3Energy. They are building a 3-acre grid on a 32-acre reservoir with floating solar panels showcasing the potential of floating solar technology.
Del-Co Water Company, a non-profit cooperative in north central Ohio, was seeking solutions to integrate solar power into their energy-intensive pump systems in order to minimize their carbon footprint. But with the rapid urban development on the outskirts of Columbus, it has significantly limited the availability of land for the establishment of a solar farm.
Chief Legal and Strategy Officer of Del-Co, Jason Rafeld said in a statement, “Growth is happening at such a pace that land is incredibly valuable. Someone floated an idea for placing the solar somewhere other than on land. Well, what if we put it on our reservoirs?”
Catching his own idea, the company is set to begin the construction soon. According to Rafeld, there will be a 32-acre Del-Co reservoir with a 3-acre floating PV panels grid. This will be the latest example of the technology through which renewable energy is expanding to places where land is limited.
Del-Co is trying out floating solar panels with a 1.2-megawatt installation. If the test goes well, the company plans to add more floating arrays to its other reservoirs. They have not observed any negative effects on water quality or reservoir performance so far, and there might even be some advantages, said Chief Rafeld, and he further added, “A lot of algae growth happens because of sunlight and so if we block the sun on a portion, we might experience less algae growth. We have a lot of confidence this is going to be successful.”
This step is expected to reduce maintenance costs and few chemical treatments would be required for countering algae growth. Moreover, with panels there would be a considerable decrease in water loss due to evaporation in drier areas.
In the United States, floating solar has seen a good growth in the past few years. It is expected that soon they will thrive as more companies want to tap into solar federal incentives and avoid land conflicts paired with high cost.
Miami-based D3Energy will supply the units for installation by Del-Co. According to Stetson Tchividjian, Development Director, these solar panels and electronics are identical to those used in conventional installations, with the only difference being that they are mounted on a floating rack instead of a rooftop or ground mount. This new rack looks a lot like a floating dock. It’s made of molded plastic called High Density Polyethene (HDPE).
Director Stetson Tchividjian said in a statement, “We build it all onshore row by row, almost like a giant Lego set, and then feed it out into the water and the rafts are then anchored in place. The units are cost-competitive with land-based ones and because they fit together more closely, require less space to generate power.”
Their pattern reduces the chance of higher racks casting a shadow on neighboring panels, which is why no extra spacing is required. Director Tchividjian added, “We’re actually just under two acres per megawatt versus the ground system at five acres.”
To reduce their co2 footprint Del-Co chooses floating solar panels by D3Energy. The company has worked with various clients, including Del-Co, the Army’s Fort Liberty base in North Carolina (formerly Fort Bragg), and Duke Energy, an electric utility company. Duke Energy installed floating solar panels in a cooling pond next to its power plant in Bartow, Florida.
The addition of floating solar to a small portion of lakes, reservoirs, and ponds in the country, could generate around 10% of present electricity generation of the nation, as concluded by the researchers of the Department of National Renewable Energy Lab.
The NREL conducted an assessment of the potential for floating solar and discovered over 24,000 artificially created bodies of water that are perfectly suited for this technology. What’s more, many of these water bodies are located in areas with way too expensive land and electricity costs.