ARKANSAS, Oct 24 (Future Headlines)- D3Energy, a pioneer in floating solar technology, has recently joined forces with Del-Co Water, a central Ohio water utility, to introduce Ohio’s inaugural floating solar venture. This groundbreaking project marks a significant shift in Ohio’s solar deployment strategy, emphasizing land conservation.

The collaborative effort aims to install a 3.2 MW floating solar farm atop a cooling pond at Del-Co’s water treatment facility. By venturing into solar energy integration, Del-Co Water demonstrates its commitment to environmental sustainability. Glenn Marzluf, CEO of Del-Co Water, underscored the significance of this project, stating, “Solar is a significant component of Del-Co Water’s strategic initiative on environmental sustainability.”

One of the key advantages of this approach is the preservation of valuable land for potential expansion. Glenn Marzluf elaborated, “Floating solar enabled us to move forward with a substantial solar installation without encumbering any of our valuable ground which may be needed for future expansion.” Furthermore, this innovation offers the potential for reducing the growth of algae by diminishing sunlight exposure in the water, enhancing the overall efficiency of the water treatment facility.

The project also adopts a comprehensive approach by integrating rooftop and carport installations to maximize energy production. The floating solar system will employ the Hydrelio floating technology developed by Ciel & Terre, a globally recognized expert in floating solar systems. Ciel & Terre’s technology boasts a remarkable track record with 1.5 GW of power either operational or in development worldwide.

Upon completion, the floating solar project is anticipated to offset nearly 50% of Del-Co Water’s electricity consumption at its water plant, translating into an estimated annual cost savings of $400,000. D3Energy has partnered with Gardner Capital, a reputable solar investor with a portfolio encompassing over 100 MW, to own and operate the system, ensuring that Del-Co Water receives a reliable and sustainable source of energy.

Construction for this innovative project is scheduled to commence in November, with materials already arriving on-site. The full grid connection is expected to be completed in late spring 2024. While the concept of floating solar is still in its nascent stages in the United States, it has been commonplace in Asia for several years. Floating solar offers a simple yet effective solution by mounting solar panels on rafts that float on bodies of water, eliminating the need for land that could otherwise be used for agriculture or construction.

A key advantage of floating solar is that it significantly reduces water evaporation in the regions where it is implemented, benefiting areas struggling with drought conditions. Moreover, the presence of water keeps the panels cooler, allowing them to generate more electricity than their land-based counterparts, which often experience reduced efficiency due to overheating.

However, one significant barrier to the widespread adoption of floating solar in the US is the higher upfront costs. John Bartle, an expert in the field, estimates that floating solar can be 10-15% more expensive than traditional land-based solar initially. Nonetheless, the long-term cost savings and the preservation of valuable land have the potential to make floating solar an attractive investment.

It is worth noting that floating solar is best suited for bodies of water that are not fast-moving, as the technology cannot operate effectively in turbulent waters. It is not suitable for oceanic or shoreline areas with large waves.

While the largest floating solar array in the world is the 320 MW Dezhou Dingzhuang Floating Solar Farm in Shandong, China, the largest such installation in North America is significantly smaller, with an 8.9 MW array at the Canoe Brook Water Treatment Plant in Millburn, New Jersey. This facility is owned by New Jersey Resources Clean Energy Ventures, an organization operating utility-scale commercial and residential solar systems throughout the Northeastern United States.

Reporting by Kevin Wood; Editing by Sarah White