Floating solar power station goes online in Japan

June 17, 2015 2 By Amanda Giasson
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A recently launched solar energy plant in Japan floats on a water reservoir.

After its completion in May, a solar power station that has been built on top of a reservoir in Hyogo prefecture, has begun operation and is the third floating station of its kind built by electronics company Kyocera, which intends to build dozens of these stations on reservoirs around the country, especially in regions where there is not enough land to build a utility-scale plant for solar energy generation. Kyocera is one of the largest vertically-integrated producers and suppliers of solar energy panels in the world.

The new station in Hyogo prefecture will generate approximately 2,680 megawatts (MW) of electricity, annually.

This amount is enough power for an estimated 820 average households. The new solar power station measures 1,093 by 253 feet (333 by 77 meters). According to the Japan Times, the energy that it produces will be purchased by Kansai Electric Power in Osaka for approximately $780,000 (¥96 million), annually.

The Quartz reported that nearly 9,100 waterproof solar panels have been used for the station, as well as a float that is comprised of high-density polyethylene. This station is the largest Kyocera has built. The first two, which were constructed earlier this year, were built on ponds.

In March 2016, the company plans to launch an even larger floating solar station on the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Chiba prefecture. This project is estimated to produce as much as 15,635 MW per year, which is more than five times as much power as the station that just became operational in Hyogo.

The water-floating solar power stations offer many advantages.

One of the advantages is that they do not take up any land space. This is ideal for where they are being built, because, as was previously stated, many of these regions do not have the land space for full-scale solar power stations.

That being said, another important advantage is that the floating stations are highly efficient. The reason is that the water helps to cool the system, which helps it to produce more power than panels that are installed on the ground. Furthermore, in addition to generating more energy, the panels are also beneficial for the reservoir. This is because by covering it, they decrease the growth of algae and lower water evaporation, both of which are concerns for reservoirs.

Additionally, these floating solar power installations will also aid Japan’s clean energy strategy. By 2030, the country is aiming to double the amount of energy it receives from renewable sources.