Brazilian hydroelectric power producer Companhia Hidroelétrica do São Francisco (Chesf), which serves several cities in the northeast of the country, has completed a 1 MW floating PV plant at the Sobradinho dam, a 175 MW hydroelectric facility on the São Francisco river in Sobradinho, in the state of Bahia.
The project, planned to be expanded to 5 MW, was launched by the company in 2016. It is part of a BRL420 million ($109 million) R&D program aimed at developing solar energy and other innovative projects in the northeast of Brazil.
The PV plant is the country’s largest R&D project for solar on water, the company said. “The goal is to study and compare the efficiency of photovoltaic technology naturally cooled by water, since the solar modules lose efficiency under strong heat,” added Chesf.
The company’s research center, the Centro de Referência em Energia Solar de Petrolina, is developing a further 3 MW of innovative solar projects and analyzing their performance and technologies.
Chesf has previously deployed a floating array at the Balbina dam, a hydroelectric facility and power station on the Uatumã river in the Amazon rainforest.
The company began considering the development of floating projects after the Brazilian government announced a plan in 2014 to incorporate such facilities at all the country’s reservoirs. At the time, a drought affected several hydroelectric power plants in Brazil’s southeast and central regions.