Colombia to host its first floating PV project

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Medellín-based power, gas, water, and telecommunication services provider, Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) has announced that it will develop what it calls the first Hispanic American floating solar project at the water reservoir of Peñol-Guatapé, which it owns and operates.

The main aim of this pilot project, the company stressed, is to test the technical and economic fundamentals of the floating PV solutions and their benefits compared with traditional ground-mounted and rooftop installations.

“We seek to verify if floating solar panels offer a higher performance of more than 10% or 15% compared to traditional systems,” said EPM’s managing director, Jorge Londoño De la Cuesta. As a benchmark, the company will use the rooftop system it has installed at one of its facilities nearby, which will take advantage of the same solar irradiation.

The 100 kW floating PV power generator will consist of 368 panels deployed on a surface of 1,430 square meters. It will be divided into two 50 kW units, which together will be able to generate around 145 MWh per year. The power provided by the array will be used for the needs of the reservoir.

The project was developed by the same EPM in partnership with local specialist ERCO, which is 40% owned by EPM’s unit, Fondo de Capital Privado EPM.

EPM has run an R&D center for solar energy since 2013. It has developed a solar-powered car that took part in the World Solar Challenge, and it has also taken part in several research projects related to solar cell development and electromobility.

In South and Central America, there are currently several floating PV projects under development. In Jamaica, the local oil company, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica is now conducting a feasibility study for a project at the water reservoir of Mona, while in Panama a 10 MW project is being planned for the Panama Canal.

Furthermore, in Brazil there are already operational floating PV plants in Sao Paulo, with several MWs of further projects being announced in the states of Amazonas and Minas Gerais.