Originally published on Sustainnovate.
By Henry Lindon
A floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system has been installed on the reservoir waters of a hydroelectric project in Brazil — as a means of diversifying the project’s generation capabilities, thereby improving resilience against drought — according to the country’s energy agency EPE.
As the country is currently facing severe drought in some regions, the project is seemingly an attempt to deal with the repercussions of that situation.
The new floating solar PV installation is located at the Balbina hydroelectric power plant in the Amazon. The project marks the first ever utilization of floating solar PV at a hydroelectric facility according to the Brazilian EPE. (I haven’t been able to verify this.)
While the first phase, which was just completed, totals just one megawatt (MW) in nameplate generation capacity, plans are in the works to expand the project to a 5 MW generation capacity in total.
Plans are also in the works to develop a similar project at the Sobradinho hydroelectric facility in Bahia, Brazil.
Key to the economic value of such projects, is the fact that when in drought, the substation and transmission capacities of the hydroelectric facilities are underutilized — using solar PV systems to generate electricity then allows the use of idle capacity, covering tariff costs.
A total of 10 MW of such projects is slated for completion by the beginning of 2019.
Note that Brazil has plans for 350 MW of floating solar power plants.