Floating solar is “the new solar” these days. Everyone wants blue panels on top of water reservoirs. If you have been following our posts regularly, you would have seen both India and Japan stake claims at building the world’s largest floating solar power plants.
Back in July, India’s National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) announced plans to set up a 50 MW solar photovoltaic project over the water bodies in the southern state of Kerala. But we have not heard much from them since then.
Later in September, Kyocera proclaimed that the world’s largest floating solar plant would come in Kato City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan — 2.9 MW of installations spread over Nishihira Pond and Higashihira Pond. By the time it starts generating power in April 2015, the 1.7 MW plant planned at Nishihira Pond is expected to become the world’s largest floating solar power generating system.
But with new developments being reported, the Nishihira system may not be able to hold on to its #1 tag for long. The government of Kawajima-machi, Saitama Prefecture, Japan announced recently that it has selected a project developer to develop a 7.5 MW solar power plant to be built on the surface of an agricultural “Umenokifurukori reservoir.”
The area of the reservoir is about 130,000m2, over which 27,456 solar panels will be set up. The construction of the plant is expected to start in mid-January 2015, and power generation is scheduled for October 2015. It is expected to produce over 8.3 million kWh/year.
The power producer is Kawajima Taiyo To Shizen No Megumi Solar Park, a “special purpose company” established by Tokyo-based Smart Energy which offers services including financial advice and strategic investment to companies looking to implement Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and other climate change mitigation projects.
Power Purchase Agreements have been signed with Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc (TEPCO) for a period of 20 years. Yingli Solar will be supplying the solar panels, while the inverters will be sourced from Schneider Electric.
Floating PV plants have been proposed as a solution to the otherwise lack of space in Japan. In wake of the Fukushima accident, Japan has been installing renewables at a huge scale. Recently, the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced that over 11 GW of renewable capacity have been added over the past two years.
At the moment, it seems the largest floating PV plant on a water reservoir is the 1.18 MW system in Okegawa, Saitama prefecture Japan. Some great photographs are available at this link.