Ciel & Terra begins work on floating PV array at California winery

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Ciel & Terre USA has begun assembly of a 9 kW Hydrelio floating PV array on a pond at Kunde Winery, in Kenwood, California, with a linked 1 kW ground mounted array that will help establish the 10% extra production anticipated from the waterborne panels.

This project is the first in the United States for Ciel & Terre, which recently opened an office in near by Petaluma, according to Eva Pauly-Bowles, the international sales director for the company. With a proprietary snap and (plastic) bolt-together design, no tools are required for installation. The multi-part mounting system between the floats and the panels is secured with a single nylon screw, by hand; other components are polypropylene and fiberglass.

The 3 mm high-density polyethylene floats are injection molded from food-grade material, since the pond is a drinking water reserve. The 9.5 kg floats carry a 10-year warranty. While the floats for this project were made in Japan, the company will begin production in Georgia with a month or so.

The waterproof PV modules used in the array are 260 W Kyocera KU260-6MCA models, assembled in Mexico, and Enphase microinverters are installed on every panel on site. The panels are fixed at a 12% incline with a separate HDPE walkway installed between each row of panels. This array will be shore anchored, but other locations are bottom anchored.

Pauly-Bowles suggests that the float and mounting system for their floating arrays may cost 5% to 10% more in California, but that premium should be offset by the additional electricity generation. Some two to three degrees of panel heating is avoided because of the lower water temperature, and wind uplift also helps cool the panels that protrude past the float structure, roughly 30 centimeters on each end.

An additional feature of the array is a set of solar powered Sungo water aerators supplied by strategic partner Aquago, based in Saint Laurent Blangy, France. Ciel & Terre packaging of the aerators made the project particularly interesting, notes Jeff Kunde, a fourth-generation wine maker and CEO of Kunde Winery. North Coast Solar, based in Santa Rosa, California, is assembling the arrays.

This array is expected to be connected to the grid through local utility PG&E.

Next week, Ciel & Terre USA will begin installing a floating array at the University of Florida. To date, the company has installed over 30 arrays in Asian countries ranging from China, Japan and Malaysia, in European countries from France to the U.K., and in Brazil and Israel.