Some of the sun in the Sunshine State is going to be used to power people’s homes, as one energy company is piloting its first floating solar farm in Florida on an existing cooling pond in Polk County.
Duke Energy has constructed a nearly 1-megawatt floating solar array across two acres of the pond’s surface. The array features more than 1,800 solar panels, which together can produce enough clean, renewable electricity to power 100 homes.
Though this is Duke’s first floating solar farm in the state of Florida, other floating solar arrays have already been built elsewhere.
One of the world’s largest floating solar arrays in Singapore is the size of 45 football fields and generates enough power for 16,000 four-room flats. And though they accounted for only 1% of all solar panels installed in 2022, solar flotillas have been popping up all across the world. One Portuguese company even created a floating system of solar panels that move with the sun.
Floating solar panels offer several added benefits — for one, they do not take up any additional land, suiting them to places where areas for new development are scarce. “Agriculture still sees solar panels as a threat that competes for the same land,” Matthias Taft, CEO of BayWa r.e., one of Europe’s biggest renewable energy developers, told Bloomberg.
The solar flotillas also are cooled by the water, which makes them more efficient, and they reduce water evaporation while limiting algae growth.
Floating solar farms don’t work on turbulent waters or in the ocean. However, according to analysis from Bloomberg, there are over 6,600 bodies of water suitable for “floatovoltaics.”
“What a great set up, it helps to cool the water and provides power,” wrote another.
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