• San Diego Deploying First Floating Solar Panels in SoCal

    floating solar panels san diego

    Solar isn't just for rooftops or ground mounts anymore.  In San Diego County, an area known for its wide adaption of renewable energy, county officials are proposing installing solar on top of a resevoir.  How is this possible?  The answer: floating solar panels.    

    According to the San Diego Union Tribune, The San Diego County Water Authority is considering a 20-acre floating solar installation on top of the Olivenhain Resevoir near Escondido.  If constructed, the installation will be the first of it's kind in Southern California, although similar projects are already underway in Northern California and Japan.  County officials are excited to be on the forefront of this new movement.
    Installing floating solar panels over water presents benefits to both the installation - and the body of water.  There's the obvious advantage that they panels will not be taking up any land space that could be used for other structures.  But solar industry experts say that the benefits extend beyond saving space.  
    The physical presence of the solar panels can actually improve the health of the body of water they are installed on.  The shade provided by the panels helps prevent evaporation from the Sun which is common amongst small resevoirs.  Additionally, the water is kept cooler from the lack of Sun, which prevents algal blooms and other forms of contamination.  
  • The water presents benefits for the panels as well.  It keeps the solar panels cool, which, because solar panels are essentially large semi-conductors, improves their performance.  This means higher production, and a longer life span as the panels will not overheat.  Also, because resevoirs are generally close to cities and urban centers, less energy will be lost to transferring the power long distances like it would if you were transferring power from a solar farm way out in the desert.  
    The system proposed for the Olivenhain Resevoir is estimated at 6 Megawatts, which is enough to power about 1,500 homes.  The San Diego Water Authority says the power will be used on-site or at their other water treatment facilities,  and any excess will be transferred back to the grid and sold on the wholesale market.  They say the panels will only take up about 10% of the resevoirs overall space.
    A year-long environmental impact study has to be completed before installation can begin.  If everything clears, the Water Authority's board will sign off for the project to be completed by the end of next year.  The Water Authority will also have to work with SDG&E to determine the interconnection and transfer costs.
    Water agencies across the nation will be watching the project and planning future similar projects based on the results.  Once again, San Diego is standing as an innovator in the renewable energy space.

    Source:  http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/north-county/sd-no-floating-solar-20170521-story.html

  • About the Author

    Michael Powers


    Michael is one of the founding partners of Stellar Solar. In 2001, he helped launch The Home Depot’s national solar energy program which is now offering home solar through hundreds of stores in nearly a dozen states. He is a writer and marketing professional with over 30 years’ experience in the fields of energy, market intelligence and leadership training. He currently serves as treasurer and board member of Global Energy Network Institute (GENI), a San Diego-based non-governmental organization that advocates linking renewable energy resources around the world using electricity transmission.