Ciel & Terre and the Town of Windsor officials said they started construction of what will be the largest floating solar power system in the state of California. The floating solar array will be installed on the Town’s largest recycled water storage pond and is expected to meet 90 percent of the Town’s water treatment and pump facilities’ energy needs.
The Ciel et Terre solar installation will consist of 4,959 (360W) high-output solar panels mounted atop the company’s patented Hydrelio floating solar racking system. The 1.78-MW system will generate power for the Windsor Wastewater Reclamation Facility, Public Works Corporation Yard, and the Geysers pump station, delivering approximately 90 percent of the water reclamation facilities’ power requirements while saving about 30 percent of the electricity cost based on the facilities’ existing grid service. The array will be floated in the pond and tethered to the shore, making it resistant to wind and seismic loads.
The project is being developed and construction financed by Ciel et Terre, which has entered into a 25-year lease and power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Town of Windsor to provide discounted clean energy. The floating solar system will allow Windsor to better control its electrical costs in the face of rising utility prices.
“By entering into a PPA, the Town can substantially reduce its energy overhead without any investment,” said Eva Pauly-Bowles, Representative Director for Ciel & Terre USA, Inc. “Floating solar is becoming an attractive energy alternative for municipalities seeking to reduce operating costs and preserve valuable land for other developments.”
“Our water reclamation and corporation yard facilities currently account for 40 percent of the Town’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Toni Bertolero, Town of Windsor Public Works Director. “Installation of this new floating solar array will reduce our reliance on energy-polluting sources by an estimated 350 metric tons of CO2 per year, a significant step to achieve our Climate Action Plan emission reduction goals.”
The floating solar project will cover only 22 percent of the available water surface area of the pond. It will have no impact on the biology of the pond and will reduce water loss from evaporation and inhibit algae growth. The state-of-the-art floating solar design can be expanded for extra capacity and will not affect plant operations while it is being installed.
Ciel & Terre is partnering with local union contractor, Collins Electrical Company, for installation. “Installing a Ciel et Terre floating solar system is like assembling a giant Lego structure. The floating frame snaps together and most of the assembly is done on shore so it is safe and relatively easy,” said Craig Gini, Vice President and Renewables General Manager for Collins Electrical Company Inc. “Floating solar is an excellent alternative to conventional solar arrays and it’s simpler and faster to install. We expect more of our California customers will be installing floating solar systems in the coming months.”
Using manmade bodies of water to host floating solar systems provides more efficient energy production due to its cooling effect on the system, while eliminating the need to use expensive real estate. The floating array also reduces water movement to minimize erosion and reduce evaporation.
The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) estimates that floating solar systems could meet 10 percent of the United States electricity needs.