SPI signs joint venture for 50 MW of floating PV projects

Solar Power, Inc. (SPI) – a China-headquartered vertically integrated PV project developer – has entered into a joint venture (JV) with Aqua Clean Energy (ACE) to develop 50 MW of floating PV projects in the U.S. and Mexico.

Both companies will co-develop the projects as part of the JV holding company, Aqua Clean Energy Fund, LLC, and are working on identifying a 50 MW pipeline in the U.S. states of California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, as well as further projects in Mexico.

SPI and ACE will implement an innovative floating solar platform for the projects, enabling the installation of PV panels on large bodies of water such as quarry lakes, reservoirs, irrigation canals and remediation and tailing ponds.

According to SPI, materials and systems used in the development of the floating platform will be composed entirely of recyclable materials and developed in a manner that has very low environmental impact. The aim is to reduce accelerated evaporation that can occur when sections of water are covered for large periods. The platform will also be effective in slowing the growth of algae that also results from shielding water.

"Large-scale floating PV systems have increasingly shown their effectiveness in various settings, and this platform gives SPI a strong competitive advantage in this growing market segment," said SPI chairman Xiaofeng Peng. "This technology not only generated clean solar power, but also serves to conserve water in critically dry regions like the southwestern U.S. and California in particular."

ACE has extensive experience in this realm, added Peng, and will take the lead in identifying host surface sites, securing water surface use approvals and performing feasibility studies.

The market for floating PV systems is beginning to mature, with Australia, India and Japan each unveiling or completing large-scale projects in recent months. India, Singapore and the U.S. already have such arrays installed, while Japan – where suitable land is often scarce – is beginning to lead the way in this field, and in March 2016 will boast the world’s largest floating PV plant – a 13.4 MW project at Yamakura Dam, developed by French EPC Ciel et Terre using Kyocera modules.