Will Japan’s Floating Solar Project Sink or Swim?
In a world with continuously rising waters, it seems like only a matter of time before we’re kayaking to work, wearing waders to get the mail, and snorkeling to go into the basement. I anticipate floating playgrounds will be constructed with buoyant sandboxes to adjust for our future aquatic lives. However, it looks like the Japanese are one step ahead with their new floating solar panel project.
It’s not the first solar power plant of its kind, but it will be the largest at 13.4 megawatts. The project is being developed by Kyocera Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation after the Japanese government introduced renewable energy incentives following the 2012 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Century Tokyo Leasing will finance the venture while Kyocera will supply the solar modules (50,000 to be exact!) and other related equipment.
The modules will be installed on Hydrelio floating platforms, patented by French company Ciel et Terre. The company built Japan’s first 1.2 megawatt floating solar power plant last July. It was also awarded a contract to build a 20-megawatt floating solar project in Sonoma County, California. Eva Pauly, the international business manager for Ciel et Tere, explained the benefits of building on water, “When you build solar plants on large bodies of water, you do not have a conflict with the usage of land… Installation is also quick and relatively inexpensive because there’s no need for excavation or a foundation.”
Japan can expect to dive into the new electric supply in March of 2016. The solar plant will generate 15,635 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power 4,700 households. With the success of previous floating solar plants, it’s sure to make a big splash in energy generation.
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