South America’s largest floating solar farm is now paired with hydropower

South America’s largest floating solar farm is now online, and it’s paired with hydropower, which boosts energy reliability and production.

Sausalito, California-based Noria Energy and partners developed the 1.5 megawatt (MW) floating solar pilot project – the largest of its kind in South America – for independent power producer URRÁ.

The floating solar farm is called Aquasol, and it’s installed at the 340 MW Urrá hydropower plant in the Sinú River basin in Córdoba, Colombia.

Aquasol consists of more than 2,800 solar modules and is expected to produce nearly 2,400 MWh of power in its first year – enough to offset the amount of energy it takes to operate the dam.

The floating solar farm is expected to avoid more than 1,540 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually and generate more than $1.2 million in additional electric power revenue over 20 years.

As part of the pilot project, Aquasol’s production and efficiency will be compared to that of a ground-mounted solar system installed on the shore. Noria says it will use Aquasol’s data to design and model larger-scale systems to maximize the generation potential of floating solar and hydroelectric dams.

Noria Energy CEO Jonathan Wank said, “Worldwide, around 60% of renewable energy comes from hydropower. That represents countless opportunities to deploy floating solar that can maximize zero-emission energy generation and diversify clean energy sources.”

Floating solar farms not only boost total generating capacity of hydroelectric dams but also help keep power flowing when low water levels or other adverse conditions reduce hydroelectric output. Floating solar also helps to reduce water evaporation. Noria’s system is designed to withstand water-level fluctuations of up to 120 feet.

Pairing the floating solar with dams also makes it simpler to tap into existing interconnection and other energy infrastructure.

Read more: This hydropower station in China is 5,000 meters above sea level

Photo: URRÁ

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