Floating solar power systems providers Ciel & Terre USA and officials from Windsor, California, have started construction of what will be the largest floating solar power system in the state. The floating array will be installed on the town’s largest recycled water storage pond and is expected to meet 90% of the water treatment and pump facilities’ energy needs.
The Ciel & Terre solar installation will consist of 4,959 (360 watts) high-output solar panels mounted atop the company’s patented Hydrelio floating solar racking system. The 1.78-MW system will generate power for the Windsor Wastewater Reclamation Facility, Public Works Corporation Yard and the Geysers pump station, saving about 30% of the electricity cost based on the facilities’ existing grid service. The array will be floated in the pond and tethered to the shore, making it resistant to wind and seismic loads.
Project financing is development is being handled by Ciel & Terre, which has entered into a 25-year lease and power purchase agreement (PPA) with Windsor to provide discounted clean energy. The floating solar system will let Windsor better control its electrical costs in the face of rising utility prices.
“By entering into a PPA, the town can substantially reduce its energy overhead without any investment,” said Eva Pauly-Bowles, representative director for Ciel & Terre USA. “Floating solar is becoming an attractive energy alternative for municipalities seeking to reduce operating costs and preserve valuable land for other developments.”
The floating solar project will cover 22% of the available water surface area of the pond. It will have no impact on the biology of the pond and will reduce water loss from evaporation and inhibit algae growth, the company said. The floating solar design can be expanded for extra capacity and will not affect plant operations while it is being installed.
“Our water reclamation and corporation yard facilities currently account for 40% of the town’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Toni Bertolero, Windsor’s public works director. “Installation of this new floating solar array will reduce our reliance on energy-polluting…a significant step to achieve our Climate Action Plan emission reduction goals.”
Ciel & Terre is partnering with a local union contractor, Collins Electrical Company, for installation.
“Installing a Ciel & Terre floating solar system is like assembling a giant Lego structure. The floating frame snaps together and most of the assembly is done on shore so it is safe and relatively easy,” said Craig Gini, VP and renewables general manager for Collins Electrical Company. “Floating solar is an excellent alternative to conventional solar arrays and it’s simpler and faster to install. We expect more of our California customers will be installing floating solar systems in the coming months.”
Using manmade bodies of water provides more efficient energy production due to their cooling effect on the system while eliminating the need to use expensive real estate. The floating array also reduces water movement to minimize erosion and reduce evaporation, the company said.
The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) released a report estimating that floating solar systems could meet 10% of the United States electricity needs.
News item from Ciel & Terre