Floating solar first

floating solar Infratech 084

Australia’s first floating solar system powers a wastewater treatment plant.

Australia’s first floating solar system was launched in late April and powers a wastewater treatment plant in the small town of Jamestown, 200 km north of Adelaide. The 4000 kW system is by Infratech Industries.

By having the panels sited on the wastewater ponds, Infratech director Felicia Whiting says the project has the potential to both reduce evaporation by up to 90% and lift the quality of treated wastewater.

“Blue-green algae is a major concern for wastewater treatment plants, and the shade produced by the floating solar panels combats this problem by limiting the photosynthesis process,” she notes.

Infratech estimates the plant will generate 57% more power than a similarly sized land-based system. The placement of the system on the water counteracts the gradual loss of output caused by overheating solar panels, creating a better-performing and more efficient system. The panels are able to track the placement of the sun, while the high concentration of panels allows light to be reflected back onto other panels and increase the amount of energy captured.

Fifteen Australian engineers and research scientists from Flinders University’s Nano Science and Technology Department were involved in the project’s development. The team will continue to gather data and research the possibility of integrated water and phosphorous treatment systems, and energy storage. Whiting says they are currently working on “on-site battery storage to be able to present a completely integrated solution.”

The privately funded installation is the first in a large-scale $12 million project that will cover five basins of water around Jamestown and Gladstone.


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