Floating Solar Plant Reduces Water Plants, Cools Panels (1)
Initial cost equivalent to ground-based mega solar, if proper installation method is incorporated
Fig. 2: The panels block sunlight and prevent abnormal growth of water plants. About 80% of the water surface was covered with water plants before installation of the panels, according to the company. (source: Nikkei BP)
Fig. 3: The plant blends in with the surrounding natural environment. The pond is surrounded by trees and is well known for its cherry blossoms in spring. The panels float on the left side of the pond. (source: Nikkei BP)
"Hyogo Kasai City Sakasamaike Floating Mega Solar Power Plant" (Fig. 1), a 2.3MW mega (large-scale) solar power plant built on Sakasamaike Pond in Kasai City, Hyogo Prefecture, started operation. It is the largest floating mega solar power plant in the world.
The sale of the electricity to Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) was started June 11, 2015. The annual output is estimated at around 2,680MWh, which corresponds to the power consumed by 820 households.
The power producer is Kyocera TCL Solar LLC (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo), an SPC (special purpose company) jointly formed by Kyocera Corp and Century Tokyo Leasing Corp. Kyocera TCL Solar develops floating mega solar equipment for installation on reservoirs and dams as well as equipment for installation on grounds and rooftops of large buildings.
Kyocera TCL Solar also plans to operate a floating mega solar power plant in Kato City, Hyogo Prefecture. The plant, featuring about 1.7MW of output, will be the second largest next to the Sakasamaike Plant. The company is also working on a plan to develop a 13.4MW floating mega solar power plant on Yamakura Dam in Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture (See related article).
Since the implementation of the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme for renewable energy-based power generation, the development of mega solar power plants in Japan has accelerated and project sites that are suitable for solar power generation and grid connection have been decreasing. Against such background, attention is focused on the development of floating mega solar power plants on reservoirs and dams.
Throughout Japan, where rainfall fluctuates substantially throughout the year, there are many ponds, including reservoirs, that supply agricultural water, dams for storage of industrial water and balancing reservoirs that are used when water levels of rivers exceed a certain height.
These ponds and dams are owned by local governments or local autonomous organizations. And the annual maintenance cost can be reduced by leasing the water surface to solar power producers. A substantial part of the maintenance and management is handled by the solar power producers during the lease period. In addition, the owners can receive rent, which was never previously imagined, from the solar power producers.
Meanwhile, the feasibility of projects will be improved because the solar power producers can lease the ponds and dams for lower rents compared with those for land.
Eliminating need for land development/weeding, reducing abnormal growth of water plants
Kyocera emphasizes three merits of floating mega solar power plants. First, they are free from factors that inevitably increase the cost of building mega solar power plants on the ground, such as land development and improvement for construction and weeding during operation of the plants.
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