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'World's Largest' Floating Solar Plant Operates on Reservoir (page 3)

Flood-prevention reservoir to supply income, emergency power at times of disaster

2013/11/17 17:02
Shinichi Kato, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Diffusion depends on construction time, introduction cost

Regarding the issue that it costs more to introduce an on-water-type solar power generation system than an on-land system, West Holdings has not revealed information such as the investment amount. Compared with the West Holdings Group's existing on-land systems, however, "The installation cost about 30% more partly because this was the first adoption for a large-scale solar power plant, but the cost will decrease from now," said President Hidehisa Onda of West Energy Solution Inc.

It is easy to bring about a volume-production effect with this system. Therefore, the cost to purchase floats is expected to decline as this method is increasingly adopted.

The West Holdings Group announced that it can complete the construction of an on-land-type large-scale solar power plant of 1MW output in one month. On the other hand, it took three months to set up the on-water plant of about 1.2MW this time. According to Executive Officer Kenji Araki of West Holdings Corp, the construction period is estimated to shorten to about two months, from the next case onwards.

The construction period is longer with an on-water system because a series of processes to set up the solar panels, such as mounting solar panels onto floats and connecting the floats together, is carried out by engineers on boats. Given this process, West Holdings Corp explained that it is difficult to construct a plant on water in the cold period of winter.

Operation and maintenance is still uncertain in some respects. Although it requires no weeding, the algae that grow on the floats and panels need to be removed. Regarding this issue, the optimum schedule will be determined after one year of observation. Even though it is an artificial reservoir, it has water inflow from the streams around, and fish are living in it. West Holdings said it is also planning to monitor and give consideration to the plant's impact on such an ecosystem.