The Brazilian government has flicked the switch of the first floating solar power system at Balbina HPP, marking the start of the research and development project targeting up to 10 MW, the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) announced on Friday.
The project is aiming to evaluate the performance of floating solar arrays installed in the lake of hydroelectric power plants in areas with different climatic regimes. As expected, the energy generated by the panels can supplement the hydroelectric power plants, taking advantage of the transmission structure already installed.
The Brazilian project includes two floating PV installations at Balbina and Sobradinho HPP. According to the MME announcement, the second pilot plant will be switched on later this week. Both arrays are planned to deliver 1 MW each at the first stage of the project. If the systems are proven successful by October 2017, a further 4 MW will be added in each unit. The study project will continue until January 2019.
The investment for both installations is estimated at 100 million Brazilian reals (US$27 million). The project is to be carried out by the Brazilian power utilities Eletronorte and Chef. Sunlution and WEG, as well as several foundations and universities will also participate.
There are several floating solar plants in the world to date. Among the largest projects is a 13.7 MW installation at Yamakura Dam reservoir in Japans Chiba Prefecture constructed by Kyocera TCL Solar LLC.
About a year ago the Brazilian government announced its plans to install 350 MW floating solar array at hydro dam in Amazon.
Floating PV presents a particular advantage in Brazil, as the modules and floating mounting structures could help to reduce evaporation from already challenged water reservoirs and bolster electricity supply in times of drought.
Read more on the website of pv magazine Latinoamerica (in Spanish).