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  1. 1. 1 Water-Energy Nexus This note discusses two types of frontier clean energy technologies which can also work to conserve water. “Floatovoltaics” and “shade balls” are designed to be used in reservoirs, and seem to be promising in terms of their low cost, environmental sustainability, and potential to save water. Floatovoltaics 1 “Floatovoltaics” are floating photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. They are useful for installation in areas with limited land availability. Installing solar panels on water comes with the challenge of maintaining the panels, as water can erode the material, and building a power cable underwater. On the other hand, the cost of water for solar installation is lower than that of land, and thus floatovoltaic systems are ideal for dams, reservoirs, and water utilities which are high energy consumers. Other benefits of using solar panels on water is reduced evaporation, reduced algae growth, and increased electric productivity due to the cooler temperature of the modules. Cost of deployment The national average for installed solar systems is $2.8 per watt ($/w) as of 2014. Solar panels are considered to have 80% efficiency for about 25 years. The increased efficiency of solar panels placed on water and the lower lease prices of water compared to land make floatovoltaics potentially more competitive than many renewable energy technologies. The global floating solar panels market is valued at $3.89 million in 2014 and is expected to grow2 . Current projects: 1 Frangoul, A. “Green light for huge floating solar farm.” CNBC. (2015) Retrieved November 28, 2015 from 2 P&S Market Research. Global Floating Solar Panels Market (Size of $4 Million in 2014) to Witness 116% CAGR During 2015 - 2020: P&S Market Research. (2015). Retrieved November 28, 2015, from 4-million-in-2014-to-witness-116-cagr-during-2015---2020-ps-market-research-540813881.html
  2. 2. 2 Current projects to install floatovoltaic farms are underway in the U.S., U.K., Japan, India, Australia, Brazil, and Israel. 1. Location: Napa Valley, California, USA Project: Floatovoltaic system in Far Niente winery; installed in 2011. Consists of 1000 Sharp solar panels. Produces 400 kW at peak output. Solar panels reduce evaporation by 70%. The floating solar panels generates power along with a solar farm located on land to completely offset the winery’s annual power usage and provide a net-zero energy bill. Project Partners: SPG Solar Costs: $4.5 million installation costs; $4 million after government rebates Policies and incentives: Government rebates and tax credits 2. Location: Sonoma County, California, USA Project: Floating solar farm, 12.5 MW installation scheduled to come online in 2016. Will produce enough electricity to power 3000 homes. Will be the second largest floating solar installation in the world following a 13.4 MW installation in Japan. Project partners: Sonoma Clean Power, Pristine Sun Costs: Installation and operation costs unknown; Pristine Sun leases ponds for $30,000 a year Policies and incentives: Constructed under project labor agreement; Sonoma Clean Power has two customer service options – CleanStart cuts electricity bills by 4%-5% to cut emissions by 30%; EverGreen provides 100% renewable energy for 20% more in costs. 3. Location: Tokyo, Japan – Yamakura Dam reservoir Project: floating solar farm, 13.7 MW, mounted using Hydrelio platforms developed by Ciet et Terre. Consists of 50,000 modules and will generate 15,635 MWh of electricity per year (enough to power 4,700 households).3 Project Partners: Kyocera Corporation; Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation; Ciet et Terre Costs: Unknown 3 Pyper, J. (2014, December 24). Japan to Build World’s Biggest Floating Solar Farm. Retrieved November 28, 2015, from
  3. 3. 3 Policies and incentives: Feed-in-tariffs; Century Tokyo Leasing provides project financing and Kyocera Group supplies the solar modules, equipment, and construction, operation, and maintenance 4. Location: Israel – Mekorot Eshkol reservoir4 Project: 50 kW plant at Mekorot’s Eshkol reservoir using a ‘self-contained system’ Project partners: Solaris Synergy Costs: Unknown Policies and incentives: National feed-in-tariffs 5. Location: Mumbai, India Project: A concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) floating solar farm using Liquid Solar Array (LSA) technology built on hydropower dam. CPV uses less silicon than standard solar panels and is thus cost- effective. According to estimates, an LSA installation can generate more power than a hydroelectric dam using 10% of its surface area. 240 MW of an LSA solar farm installation can increase annual energy generation by 230%5 . Project partners: Australia’s Sunengy; Tata Power Company by India Costs: Unknown Policies and incentives: Potential government subsidies; costs covered by partnership 6. Location: Brazil, Amazon Project: 350 MW on Balbina hydroelectric dam Costs: cost of electricity estimated between $0.068 and $0.077 per kWh6 Policies and incentives: Potential government subsidies and private investment 4 Solaris Synergy. (n.d.). Retrieved November 26, 2015, from 5 Australian Company To Build Floating Solar Farm In India - Energy Matters. (2011, March 22). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from 6 Pagan-Quinones, L. (2015, August 25). Shade balls or floating solar panels? - Latin American Science. Retrieved December 1, 2015, from
  4. 4. 4 7. Location: Jamestown, South Australia Project: 3.5 MW floating solar farm at a water treatment plant. Estimated to be 57% more efficient than a land-based solar farm and save 70,000 kiloliters of water per MW annually7 . Project partner: Infratech Industries Costs: $12 million Policies and Incentives: Potentially qualified for solar rebates and feed-in-tariffs 8. Location: Manchester, UK – Godley Reservoir in the Hyde area Project: floating solar farm of 12,000 panels, 2.7 GWh Project partner: United Utilities Costs: 5 million euros Policies and incentives: Government subsidies which are set to be cut to 1 pound-per-KWh 9. Location: Kolkata, India – Victoria Memorial Project: Victoria Memorial; Still in construction, 12 kW Project partners: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy; Renewable Research College (Kolkata) Costs: Capital costs 65 million rupees or $63,600 Policies and incentives: Funding provided by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy; could qualify for government subsidies 10. Location: Sanand, India – Narmada Canal Project: Narmada Canal Solar Farm Project Partners: Government of Gujarat; SunEdison; unspecified completion date; 3,600 MEMC polycrystalline solar modules and four grid-tied central inverters; 1.5 million kwh annually 7 Pittaway, I. (2015, April 29). Floating solar plant in SA hailed as green tourist attraction. Retrieved December 1, 2015, from
  5. 5. 5 Costs: Unknown Policies and incentives: Eligible for government subsidies 11. Location: Bagalkot district, Karnataka, India Project: Alamatti Canal Project; 3300 solar panels Project Partners: Department of Water Resources SunEdison Energy India Private Ltd. Costs: About 10.45 crore (10 million rupees) for operation and maintenance for 5 years Policies and incentives: Government subsidies 12. Location: Canoe Brook Water Treatment Plant, New Jersey Project: New Jersey American Water – Canoe Brook; already installed; 538 solar modules will generate 135 kw of DC power, to be converted to 115 kw of AC power to generate 2% of the water treatment plant’s power; will produce 135,000 kwh per year and save about $16,000 annually. Project Partners: Eneractive Solutions Costs: $1.35 m installation costs, some of which were offset by solar tax rebates Policies and incentives: solar tax rebates through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 13. Location: Suvereto, Italy, Petra Winery Project: Floating Tracking Cooling Concentrator (FTCC); Already installed; 200 kWp capacity, average energy gain of more than 10% Project Partners: Terra Moretti Costs: less than 800 euros for kWp Policies and incentives: Potential government subsidies and private investment.
  6. 6. 6 Shade balls Shade balls are made from an outer covering of polyethylene and filled with air and water. The materials from which shade balls are made are BPA free and NSA certified to be in contact with drinking water. The outer surface is UV resistant to heat. Covering a body of water with shade balls will lower the rate of evaporation and prevent the formation of bromate – a product of chlorine reacting with bromide in sunlight. It also prevents algae growth. Shade balls are cheaper per unit than floatovoltaics but have shorter lifetimes (about 10 years.) Cheaper solution for covering large reservoirs than installing floating covers Current projects Currently, as of 2014-2015, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in California, USA deployed 96 million shade balls on its largest reservoir – the Los Angeles Reservoir at Sylmar. This deployment is the largest in the U.S. Prior to this deployment, shade balls have been deployed in the Upper Stone, Elysian, and Ivanhoe reservoirs. The manufacturers are XavierC, Artisan Screen Process, and Orange Products. Cost of deployment Shade balls cost $0.36 each and the entire installation cost $34.5 million. The LADWP installation is expected to save more than 300 million gallons of water annually in California, which could amount to saving $250 million over time8 . 8 Roston, E. (2015, August 11). Who's Behind the 96 Million 'Shade Balls' That Just Rolled Into L.A.'s Reservoirs? Retrieved November 28, 2015, from