Felicia Whiting of Infratech Industries revealed the company’s plans earlier this year to construct the first floating solar farm in South Australia. The solar plant will be based on a wastewater treatment facility in Jamestown in the state’s mid north.
According to Ms. Whiting, the floating solar farm was designed so that the majority of the construction work will be completed offsite and then assembled together at the facility.
Floating solar farm to be located near Jamestown, SA
Whiting also stated that as the solar panels were floating, their temperatures will be kept cool by the water mass. This process will make them approximately 57% more efficient than land-based solar panels.
“It prevents water evaporation up to 90% of the surface area covered, and for dry states and dry climates, that’s a big water saving measure. It prevents the outbreak of blue-green algae by keeping the surface water cool, which is for treated wastewater an issue in water quality,” Whiting explains.
“By preventing photosynthesis, the energy from the sun goes into the panel rather than into the water,” continues Ms. Whiting.
This project will be a showcase of the technology available at this Jamestown floating solar farm. Previously, Infratech has constructed other floating solar power plants in countries such as South Korea and France.
Infratech Industries farm design already in operation in South Korea & France
However, Infratech Industries had regarded them as test sites for the new and improved floating solar farm designed for South Australia. “The plants that we had operating overseas were really behind the meter and not at the utility level and certainly didn’t have some of the sophistication,” explains Ms. Whiting.
Once completed, the South Australian plant is expected to produce not only the energy needed to power its co-located wastewater treatment facility, but also to generate excess power flow-on to the township of Jamestown.
“The water treatment plants are heavy users of power for the actual water treatments and pumping,” says Ms. Whiting. “Quite sustainably, with no additional use of land, we can use the water surface to power the water treatment facility” she adds.
New plant design to improve previous solar panel technology limitations
“In addition to that, because we’re so efficient, we’re able to export power to the township,” continues Ms. Whiting.
According to Ms. Whiting, once the floating solar farm is operational, it would become Infratech’s showpiece for export around the world.
“We’ve invested our whole research and development program in this technology over the past two years in South Australia. We have other councils waiting to have a look at this and see how it might be adapted to a water basin or a community wastewater management scheme,” Whiting continues.
“We are using Australian engineering and it’s an Australian supply chain – that will be taken internationally,” adds Ms. Whiting.
As an innovative solar energy source, the floating solar farm will also perform an important function in the efficient operation of the wastewater facility by reducing its dependency on the grid.
Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation on Flickr