After establishing a foothold as a land-based form of energy generation, solar power is also taking to water.
The project involves the installation of a 3.2-megawatt array of solar panels that will float over the surface of one of the utility’s water treatment ponds.
Siting solar panels over water has many benefits, not the least of which is land. Over the years, the utility has increased the capacity of its water treatment facilities to meet the demands of rapid population growth. That growth will continue, necessitating more expansion of water treatment facilities in the future, and those expansions will require land.
By doubling down on the use of pond surface area for solar panels, the utility does not have to make the difficult choice about the best use of its land. Instead, it can invest in the expansion of its power generation and supply and still have the acreage it will need to accommodate future growth and expansion of its water treatment and delivery systems.
The solar panels also benefit the water treatment system. Covering ponds with solar panels cuts down on penetrable sunlight that would otherwise promote the growth of algae that needs to be removed.
Upon completion, the project will offset nearly 50% of Del-Co Water’s electricity consumption at the water plant, resulting in estimated cost savings of $400,000.
Materials delivery has already started, and construction is scheduled to begin in November 2023. Full grid connection is expected in late spring 2024.
The Del-Co project is being described as the first floating solar farm in Ohio, but it won’t be alone. A second project is also underway. In May, officials in Lima, Ohio, passed an ordinance giving the mayor the green light to enter into a contract with D3Energy to build an array on the city’s Twin Lake Reservoir. It would directly power the city’s water plant. When completed, it will be the largest floating solar farm in the state.