OUC’s Floating Solar As Part of the March Toward 100% Renewable Energy
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
(Please click on red links & note magenta)
Here in Florida, the state of 30,000 lakes (mostly non-navigable and without shades from trees), unusable waterways avail tremendous amount of surface area for solar projects in the Sunshine state. OUC (Orlando Utility Commission, the Reliable One) found a way to take advantage of these sunny surface areas and weaved sustainability into its clean energy portfolio. In February of last year (2017), OUC began its installation of a floating solar array (of 31.5 kilowatt or KW facility, 100 solar panels) on a large pond next to its Gardenia Operations Center between John Young Parkway and I-4. It only took two days to complete the installation. So this 31.5 KW solar array, enough to power about 5 homes, would be able to send 31,500 watts of electricity to the OUC grid. This $90,000 project would more than pay for itself in energy production over time (most likely to pay for itself within 10 years). As one of the few floating solar installations tied directly into the U.S. electrical grid, this solar array was manufactured by Ciel & Terre.
This innovative floating technology was he perfect solution! The cooling properties of water helped the solar panels to last longer and to perform more efficiently. Increased shade created by solar array over the pond would reduce evaporation and algal growth. This is in addition to saving money by generating electricity to power 5 homes. We hope that OUC, utility companies every where, developers and property owners with ponds or lakes would all consider to expand the use of this solar floating technology.
(Seriously, this floating solar technology may potentially help to reduce the problem with red tide algal bloom killing marine life off Southwest Florida coast! )
OUC Vice President of Emerging Technologies Byron Knibbs said,”We’re using an area that is already devoid of trees and the reflectivity of the water will actually increase the capacity of the 100 solar panels.” He also noted that the impetus behind this project was to try to help new developers to consider adding solar to properties that include ponds or small lakes. OUC was the first utility company in Central Florida to build a large solar farm and was also the first in the nation to offer community solar where residents can “buy a piece” of an array on the same Gardenia campus.
Established in 1923 by a special act of the Florida Legislature, OUC—The Reliable One is the second largest municipal utility in Florida and 14th largest municipal in the country. OUC provides electric, water, chilled water and/or lighting services to 246,000 customers in Orlando, St. Cloud and parts of unincorporated Orange and Osceola counties.
To better understand Floating Solar, please refer to the excerpt from wikipedia, in italics, below:
Floating solar or FPV (Floating photovoltaic), refers to an array of solar panels on a structure that floats on a body of water, typically an artificial basin or a lake.
This technology has had a rapid growth on the renewable energy market since 2016 and in 2017 has overcome the 200 MW of installed power. The first 20 plants, of a few dozen of kWp have been built between 2008 and 2014 as reported in the MIRARCO paper that analyzed the birth of this technology.
The installed power in 2018 is foreseen to be near to 1 GW.
American, Danish, French, Italian and Japanese nationals were the first to register patents for floating solar. In Italy the first registered patent, regarding PV modules on water, goes back to February 2008.
There are several reasons for this development:
- No land occupancy: the main advantage of floating PV plants is that they do not take up any land, except the limited surfaces necessary for electric cabinet and grid connections. Their price is comparable with land based plants, but they provide a good way to avoid land consumption.
- Installation and decommissioning: floating PV plants are more compact than land-based plants, their management is simpler and their construction and decommissioning straightforward. The main point is that no fixed structures exist like the foundations used for a land-based plant so their installation can be totally reversible.
- Water saving and water quality: the partial coverage of basins can reduce the water evaporation. This result depends on climate conditions and on the percentage of the covered surface. In arid climates such as Australia this is an important advantage since about 80% of the evaporation of the covered surface is saved and this means more than 20,000 m3/year/ha. This is a very useful feature if the basin is used for irrigation purposes.
- Cooling: the floating structure allows the implementation of a simple cooling system. Cooling mechanism is natural but can also be active by generating a water layer on the PV modules or using a submerged PV modules, the so called SP2 (Submerged Photovoltaic Solar Panel). In these cases the global PV modules efficiency rises thanks to the absence of thermal drift, with a gain in energy harvesting up to 8-10%.
- Tracking: a large floating platform can be easily turned and can perform a vertical axis tracking: this can be done without wasting energy and without the need for a complex mechanical apparatus as in land-based PV plants. A floating PV plant equipped with a tracking system has a limited additional cost while the energy gain can range from 15 to 25%.
- Storage opportunity: the presence of water naturally suggests using gravity energy storage mainly in the coupling with hydroelectric basins. However other possibilities has been explored and in particular CAES systems have been suggested.
- Environment control: a parallel advantage is the containment of the algae bloom, a serious problem in industrialized countries. The partial coverage of the basins and the reduction of light on biological fouling just below the surface, together with active systems can solve this problem. This is only a part of the more general problem of managing a water basin generated by industrial activities or polluted by them. See for example the mining managing.
- Efficiency improvement: Many studies claim that there is a significant improvement in efficiency putting solar panels over water. These studies are not conclusive and differ in their conclusion. The energy gain reported range from 5 to 15%.
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
More about the community at www.WindermereSun.com
~Let’s Help One Another~
Please also get into the habit of checking at these sites below for more on solar energy topics: