Floating Solar Platforms Could Bring Minimal Drought Relief
Four U.S. states and Mexico could soon be providing space for floating solar projects undertaken by renewable energy developer Solar Power Inc. and Aqua Clean Energy, with backing from Shanghai-based LDK Solar Co.
“The joint venture would put solar panels on platforms in reservoirs, quarry lakes, irrigation canals, and tailing ponds,” Bloomberg reports. “In addition to the environmental benefits of clean power, the platforms will reduce water evaporation and slow algae growth, Solar Power said.” The companies have an eye on more than 50 megawatts of projects in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, and in Mexico.
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“This technology not only generates clean solar power energy, but also serves to conserve water in critically dry regions like the southwestern U.S. and California, in particular, which is now experiencing its fourth consecutive year of drought,” said SPI Chairman Peng Xiaofeng.
But Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Jacqueline Lilinshtein said the project’s contribution to water supplies will be a “drop in the bucket” against enduring drought. “Unless the technology offers significant savings in capital expenditures or increases output, it will likely remain a niche product,” she wrote.