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Great photo from the team @sandbarsolar! As #FarNiente partner and President Larry Maguire says, "As an agriculture-based business, we have an obligation to do our part and take sustainable measures." ======> @sandbarsolar:@farnientewinery is leading by example with their sustainable ecologically friendly winery in Napa Valley. They called the solar experts @sandbarsolar to help them retrofit a new wiring design for their 386kW floatovoltaic & ground mount array. 🌞🍷 #solarpoweredwinery #teamsandbarsolar #floatovoltaics
Goodbye land-based sunshine farms. Artificial water bodies are the new surface for solar energy.
China is leading the world in the use of floating solar panels or arrays. So far, the largest one is located on an artificial lake made from a collapsed coal mine. Built in 2017, the new solar system boasts 166,000 panels that can produce 40 megawatts, or enough electricity to power about 15,000 homes.
Japan is also following the trend with 60 solar floating farms, but the US has been more cautious in joining the energy fad.
Photovoltaics, or floating solar panels, are attached to pontoons which float on retention ponds, reservoirs, and waste treatment lakes. Underwater cables carry direct energy current to land where it is converted and entered into the local grid.
The not so bright spot? To be successful, the entire system must hold up under high waves, winds and corrosion and last for more than 25 years. Also, affects to fish and other wildlife haven’t been determined.
Still, these solar panels offer some big benefits. For instance, they don’t take up prized property for development or agriculture. They are also easier to install than land-based systems. Because they sit on water, they can cool off quicker and increase conversion rates up to 20 percent.
There are a few solar panel ponds in the US, but with such small of a number, it’s still unknown whether they will be a cost effective alternative.
A Napa Valley winery, Far Niente Winery, became the world’s first non-experimental solar floating array in 2008. Ten years later, Los Angeles City Council approved an 11.6 megawatt floating solar pilot plant. Tampa Bay Water Authority also approved a project in 2018.
Robert Spencer, a data scientist and software developer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, co-authored a study in the December 2018 of Environmental Science & Technology that assessed the technology’s potential on 24,419 artificial water bodies in the continental U.S. It found covering just 27 percent of those water bodies with floating solar arrays could produce almost 10 percent of the nation’s current power generation.
The impact of human’s longevity on the planet is unknown. These alternative energy sources could lessen the damage of our footprint…or at least score you a $0.00 energy bill like the one Far Niente Winery has been receiving for years.