Hyogo Prefecture western Japan. Floating Solar Power
The 9,072 waterproof solar panels installed at a reservoir in Hyogo Prefecture western Japan are cooled for greater efficiency and will help to reduce evaporation and algae growth in the reservoir.

Last month, Japan’s technology company Kyocera TCL Solar LLC completed construction of its third floating solar power plant, a 2.3MW facility in Hyogo Prefecture western Japan, said a company statement.

Kyocera Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing jointly established Kyocera TCL Solar LLC in August 2012 for the purpose of constructing and operating multiple solar power plants in Japan.

The joint venture led by the Kyoto-based electronics manufacturer opened the “mega-solar” station on the surface of a reservoir in nearby Hyogo Prefecture, using 9,072 waterproof solar panels installed on a float made of high-density polyethylene.

Island solar power plants

After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan sought to invest in renewable energy with their energy strategy aiming to double the amount of renewable power sources in the country by 2030.

However due to a lack of suitable and available land for utility-scale generation projects the country turned to floating solar power plants.

The Hyogo Prefecture station measures 333 meters in length and 77 meters in width and produces around 2,680 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, meeting the demand of approximately 820 households, Kyocera said.

All the electricity produced will be sold to Kansai Electric Power Company in Osaka for about ¥96 million ($780,000) annually.

Advantage of efficiency

One advantage of the floating solar stations is efficiency. The water cools the system and thereby helps it generate power more efficiently than land-based solar plants.

In addition, the panels shading the water assists in the reduction of evaporation and algae growth, two common concerns with reservoirs and water resource management.

The floating systems were found to withstand hurricane-speed winds of up to 118 miles per hour in testing at Onera, France’s aerospace lab and the systems have been described as ‘earthquake-proof’.

The disadvantages that are of concern include the system being costlier to install and maintain than traditional solar systems.

Growing number

The Hyogo plant is Kyocera’s third such installation, the first two being smaller versions launched on ponds earlier this year.

Kyocera will next launch a large floating solar installation in the Chiba Prefecture’s Yamakura Dam reservoir in March 2016, which will generate an estimated 15,635 megawatt hours per year providing electricity to approximately 5,000 households.

Apart from Japan, countries that have floating solar systems or are currently underway are India, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil and the US.

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