We may not have flying cars yet, but when they arrive they may well run on sunshine–at least if scientists at Japanese company Kyocera TCL Solar have something to say about it.
Kyocera is constructing the largest floating solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant on the planet.
“When we first started R&D for solar energy…technology was only viable for small applications,” says Nobuo Kitamura, who manages the Solar Energy Group at Kyrocera.
As solar R&D advances, though, so do available applications. As a result, Kyocera and other solar tech companies are now able to begin “utilizing untapped bodies of water as solar power generation sites.”
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster put safety and sustainability concerns in the world spotlight, posing serious questions for countries across the globe about how to move toward safer, more sustainable energy sources.
This solar installment is one way to meet the growing demand for greater and safer energy production for our power-hungry cities.
The project began in October of 2014 as an answer to requests from the Public Enterprises Agency of Chiba Prefecture, which was publicly seeking companies to build and staff a floating solar PV power plant to reduce the environmental impacts caused by a market traditionally confined to dirty and non-renewable energy sources.
Solar PV arrays similar to the Yamakura project also alleviate some of the complications of building plants in a country with limited space.
The plant at Yamakura will be the company’s fourth floating solar power plant, and the largest of its kind ever constructed. It is estimated that the plant itself will be comprised of 51,000 photovoltaic panels and will cover a surface area of 180,000 sq. meters (roughly 215,000 sq. yards).
Upon completion, the plant will generate 16,170 megawatt hours (MWh) each year – enough to meet the annual energy needs of approximately 5,000 households.
The renewable energy will offset 8,200 tons of C02 emissions each year. To give you some perspective, the plant will annually produce an amount of clean, sun-grown electricity equal to 19,000 barrels of oil.
The facility should start pumping power to homes no later than March of 2018. Kyocera Communication Systems Co., Ltd is responsible for construction, while Kyocera Solar Corporation will undertake Operation and Maintainence services. The generated electricity will be sold to Tokyo Electric Power Company.
Other countries are also exploring floating solar PV as a help in gaining energy independence and stamping out the threat fossil fuels pose to economy and earth alike.
The Brazilian government, for example, gave the green-light to pilot projects and research-and-development efforts in early 2016, boldly announcing the previous year that they intend to install 350 MW floating solar power array in the Amazon at the Balbina dam.
If completed, the Balbina plant will surpass its Japanese counterpart and become the world’s largest facility.
This time next year, Japan will see these energy-harnessing panels hovering over the Yamakura reservoir in Ichihara city. The advancement of solar PV technology may prove more useful than we had ever imagined. Let us hope that one day we can proudly live in a world powered by electric sunshine.