Japan-based Kyocera Corporation is gearing up to build and deploy the world’s largest floating solar plant, some 75 km east of the capital city of Tokyo. Floating power stations have been around since 2006, and are usually constructed on lakes and freshwater dams. The current project, according to the developers, is part of a worldwide movement aimed at conserving valuable agricultural space, especially in countries like Japan where usable land is scare and expensive.
The concept of floating solar-power generation system was first conceived by French company Ciel et Terre. Later in 2007, Napa Valley-based wine producer Far Niente installed a small-scale buoyant solar plant on a pond, in an attempt to lower energy costs without devouring fertile land. In Japan, a collaboration between Kyocera TCl and Century Tokyo Leasing Corp. has already resulted in the construction of three water-based renewable energy stations near the city of Kobe, situated in the Hyogo Prefecture of Honshu island.
The company is currently planning to erect the world’s largest floating solar plant, for Chiba Prefecture’s Public Enterprise Agency, with total power generation capacity of over 13.7 megawatts. Located on the Yamakura Dam reservoir, the new power station will house nearly 51,000 Kyocera-designed solar modules, spread over an area of around 180,000 square meters. The system, as the developers point out, will produce an estimated 16,170 megawatt-hours of electricity every year, which would in turn power as many as 4,970 households.
The buoyant solar plant would reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by an impressive 8,170 tons. This is equivalent to the amount of environmentally-harmful CO2 released into the atmosphere by the combustion of 19,000 barrels of oil. Once operational, the power generated by the station will be collected by three substations, and then fed into the 154-kilovolt grid lines maintained by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPC).
The system will be installed on the water by means of a special mounting platform developed by Ciel et Terre. The plant’s unique design features support modules that are built not from metal, but high-density, recyclable polyethylene that is remarkably resistant to corrosion and also impervious to sun’s UV rays. Erected without the need for any excavation work, such water-based installations actually help reduce water evaporation and algae growth, without affecting the water quality.
To ensure that the setup remains secure even in case typhoons and cyclones, which are common in Japan, the system will be anchored to bottom of the Yamakura Dam reservoir. For the project, several Kyocera-affliated companies and partners have come together, each contributing differently to the enterprise. The Kyoto-based parent company will be supplying around 51,000 units of multicystalline 60-cell, 270-watt solar panels, each with 18.4-percent cell efficiency and approximately 16.4-percent module efficiency. The plant’s engineering and construction is being handled by Kyocera Communications Systems, while Kyocera Solar Corp. will be responsible for day-to-day operations and maintenance. Speaking about the project, Toshihide Koyano of Kyocera said:
Due to the rapid implementation of solar power in Japan, securing tracts of land suitable for utility-scale solar power plants is becoming difficult. On the other hand, because there are many reservoirs for agricultural use and flood-control, we believe there’s great potential for floating solar-power generation business.
Currently part of around 10 other projects, involving the construction and installation of similar floating solar stations, the company will likely commence operations at the Yamakura Dam plant by March of 2018. While the actual cost of building the solar power station has not yet been disclosed, Kyocera’s spokesperson was reported saying:
Implementation costs for floating solar plants and ground-mounted systems are about the same.
Via: IEEE Spectrum