Floating solar plant to begin construction

Floating solar plant to begin construction
Solar panels will be floated at the wastewater facility at Jamestown, similar to a current project in France. Reproduced with permission from Infratech Industries Pty Ltd

An Australian-first floating solar power plant is expected to be operational in South Australia by April.

The plant will float on a wastewater treatment facility in Jamestown in the state’s mid-north.

As the solar panels are floating, they will be kept cool by the water mass, making them about 57 per cent more efficient than land-based solar panels.

Felicia Whiting of Infratech Industries said the plant was designed so that much of the construction could be carried out offsite and slotted together at the facility.

“We should see some plant on the site within about two weeks,” Ms Whiting said, as reported by ABC News.

Floating the solar panels also prevents evaporation by up to 90 per cent on the surface area covered, offering an additional incentive for dry states and dry climates. By preventing photosynthesis, the energy from the sun goes into the panel rather than into the water.

Infratech has developed floating solar power plants in France and South Korea, but the company had suggested they will become test sites for the new and improved model planned for South Australia.

“The plants we had operating overseas were really behind the meter and not at the utility level and certainly didn’t have some of the sophistication,” Ms Whiting told ABC News.

The South Australian plant is expected to produce enough energy to power its co-located wastewater treatment facility, with excess power to flow-on to the township of Jamestown.

When operational, the plant will become Infratech’s showpiece for export around the world.

“We are using Australian engineering and it’s an Australian supply chain – that will be taken internationally,”
Ms Whiting said.