Environment

Construction finishes on two floating mega-solar plants in Japan

Aerial view of the floating power plant at Nishihira Pond (Photo: Kyocera Corporation, Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation)
Aerial view of the floating power plant at Nishihira Pond (Photo: Kyocera Corporation, Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation)
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Aerial view of the floating power plant at Nishihira Pond (Photo: Kyocera Corporation, Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation)
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Aerial view of the floating power plant at Nishihira Pond (Photo: Kyocera Corporation, Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation)
Aerial view of the floating power plant at Nishihira Pond (Photo: Kyocera Corporation, Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation)
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Aerial view of the floating power plant at Nishihira Pond (Photo: Kyocera Corporation, Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation)
Aerial view of the floating power plant at Nishihira Pond (Photo: Kyocera Corporation, Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation)
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Aerial view of the floating power plant at Nishihira Pond (Photo: Kyocera Corporation, Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation)

Construction has been completed on two enormous floating solar power plants located in the Nishihira Pond and Higashihira Pond in Kato City, Japan. According to The Kyocera Corporation and the Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation, who partnered up to build the instillations, the combined output of the solar plants will be around 3,300 megawatt hours (MWh) per year, and provide electricity to an estimated 920 households.

The vast floating power plants represent an attractive, and more importantly safe option for electricity generation in the context of the uncertainty that has prevailed in the wake of the 2011 Fukashima incident. Furthermore, the water-located solar cells will reportedly generate more electricity than their roof-based counterparts, as they are constantly cooled by the water beneath them.

The two facilities are comprised of 11,256 255-watt Kyocera modules on a high-density polyethylene platform, and are reportedly capable of withstanding typhoon conditions. It is thought that the shade produced by the vast power plants should reduce both algae growth and water evaporation.

Another much larger facility planned in the Yamakura Dam reservoir will boast roughly 50,000 modules and have an output of around 15,635 Mwh per year.

For an aerial view of the power plants, check out the video below

Source: Kyocera Corporation

Kyocera TCL Solar Inaugurates Floating Mega Solar Power Plants in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan

12 comments
Buellrider
How do they clean them?
Paul van Dinther
Indeed. Cleaning? The moment I saw the bird fly over the panels I thought... Bird shit. Another feel good drop in the energy bucket. Stick to modern nuclear guys. This solar panel and wind mill nonsense doesn't cut it.
민우 김
Floating Solar Power Systems are wonderful Ideas. And it’s very important to maintain effectively same direction and position on the water for floating solar plants. Because directional change of solar panels reduces electricity production. So floating solar plants also need the directional control mooring systems for their parked positions. Azimuth and position change of floating solar plants caused by wind, waves and external forces. Restoring Force Strengthened Mooring System for floating solar plants has been created in South Korea. This Mooring System generates Restoring Force immediately when floating solar plants are being rotated or moved on the water. Recently, Restoring Force Strengthened Mooring Systems have been used in South Korea. You can see the Restoring Force Strengthened Mooring System in Ochang Dam, South Korea. I N I WORLD
Nairda
Daily positional changes on panels is largely overrated. Seasonal movements I can understand. For dirt, its not only bird stuff, but moisture and other gunk that will inevitably settle on the bottom of the panels. Likely nests too, as with all islands. On the plus, if these panels had concentrators on them, they could use the water in a closed loop affair through the water for cooling. As long as the water was regularly topped up to avoid loss through evaporation.
Jérémy Henriquel
I agree with you Paul, look at what generates this solar plant. Just enough for 920 homes, ridiculous. The next one will power 4358 homes, still ridiculous. For big, reliable and CO2-free power, nuclear still remains the most viable options.
Zolartan
@Jérémy&Paul “Stick to modern nuclear guys. This solar panel and wind mill nonsense doesn't cut it.” Why is it nonsense and why does it not cut it? In Germany we already have significantly more renewable electricity (26%) compared to nuclear (16%) (Source:http://www.bmwi.de/DE/Themen/Energie/Erneuerbare-Energien/erneuerbare-energien-auf-einen-blick.html). Electricity from wind and solar is cheaper, cleaner and safer compared to “modern nuclear”. Why should one stick with nuclear and keep producing radioactive waste causing huge costs for current and future generations. You might be interested to take a look at these responses to similar pro-nuclear comments: http://www.gizmag.com/solar-powered-pathway-netherlands/34613/#comments
Linuxfreakazoid
This is obviously as huge project that can be expanded in the future. That being said for the amount of money this currently takes to build its clearly not even worth it at all. 920 Homes... just stupid. Cleaning is a great point too. There has been cases where sand will get on the solar panels and obviously make them get less energy ultimately.
Daishi
>“Stick to modern nuclear guys. This solar panel and wind mill nonsense doesn't cut it.” Fukushima was mostly modern nuclear. Kirk Sorensen did a TED talk on using Thorium that is interesting. He also did a good job articulating some of the shortfalls of "modern nuclear" at about 1:45 of the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2vzotsvvkw&t=1m45s Water is heated to 300C pressurized at 70-15 atmospheric pressure inside the capsule which sits inside a huge containment building. If there is a failure 300C pressurized water expands (1000x) into the containment building as steam (and hydrogen). Without constant cooling the reactor melts down immediately, and the problem with the containment building which we have seen is hydrogen is flammable and they explode. So upon any total failure of the cooling system (loss of power, or other) things quickly domino out of control and catastrophe seems pretty much inevitable. One top of that any case where there is pressure loss to the cooling system (or even only one of them) and the reactor itself has not yet melted there is a risk of a hydrogen explosion that would cause critical damage to the rest of the facility. Much of the damage at fukushima was from the hydrogen combustion and it (and 3 Mile Island) were fairly modern Generation 2 reactors. I've watched the nuclear documentary Pandora's Promise and while they raise some good points (nuclear power is responsible for very few actual deaths) nuclear power is not without some pretty significant flaws. The next point is if you look at the levelized costs (LCOE) of wind, solar, nuclear you will see that wind power is already as cheap as nuclear. While solar used to be expensive the cost/watt for panels is tanking: http://i.imgur.com/UGhqLNl.png Solar is essentially projected to hit "coal parity" in cost by about 2020 or sooner depending who you ask. Between now and 2020 is less time than it would take to put in a new nuclear power plant if you started the paperwork today. Even as someone who is less afraid of nuclear power plants than most I would much rather pay 5 cents/kWH more for electricity than live near a nuclear power plant. Nuclear offers good energy density and maybe thorium and some other innovations have promise. China seems pretty willing to test these nuclear plants but I admit I am firmly in the NIMBY (not in my back yard camp) when it comes to nuclear. Some of the innovations in nuclear are being sold as being very low risk but nobody seems to have understood some of the (now obvious) shortcomings with reactors like Fukushima at the time they agreed to install it either. David MacKay has assembled some interesting data on energy density of renewables compared to nuclear and given a TED talk on it as well if you are interested: http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sustainable/data/powerd/MapOfWorld.html The talk is linked at the bottom of the page and he is mostly in support of nuclear as a necessary option. Something like biofuel has such a low amount of energy density that there is essentially no way it will ever be more than a very niche solution. Harvesting the energy from those crops requires a significant amount of energy invested so there is a very low return.
Zolartan
@Linuxfreakazoid "for the amount of money this currently takes to build its clearly not even worth it at all." Ah, you found out the costs for these floating power plants? Could you please provide a link. Have not found any number online... PS: If you don't have it, I don't see how you can make such a cost evaluation.
Jérémy Henriquel
When it comes to Germany, I always laugh because they cut nuclear and how did they replace their reactors ? By opening coal-fired powerplant of course (47% of the electricity), oh the sweet irony. Of course, you also know that Germany is importing electricity when wind isn't blowing and sun isn't shining and who is the first exporter to Germany ? First France and second Czech Republic, the biggest nuclear fleet in the world and the other is extending nuclear power. "http://www.statista.com/statistics/276114/german-electricity-imports-from-europe-by-country/" It doesn't make real sense because a small 900 MW nuclear plant produces 6.3 TWh at a capacity factor of 80%. To replace it you need around 2 millions of those solar plants. "Electricity from wind and solar is cheaper, cleaner and safer " Safer ? Of course and it's logical. Cleaner ? Look at all the waste that produces a solar panel factory and the energy it consumes (fossil of course because wind and solar are too intermittent for full industrial use). Cheaper ? Why renewables are booming in Germany ? Because of government subsidies, cut them and I'm not sure it's gonna be the same. It's what happened in France with solar panels, subsidies were high and every one wanted solar panels, now they are much lower and I don't see any new significant capacity installed since. When it comes to nuclear power, wastes are always brought up. Do you know PRISM, the GE-Hitachi reactor ? This one burns waste and even natural uranium and South Australia is even considering it to provide CHEAP electricity to its inhabitants. "http://theenergycollective.com/actinideage/2207061/nuclear-australia-through-new-prism" The wastes from this reactor will be as radioactive as uranium ore after only 300 years. A 100% wind and solar world is not possible because these energy sources are too scattered, too diffuse and too intermittent to be used industrially so we need to compensate and nuclear is the most viable solution. Why China is investing massively in nuclear power ? Because they have found it is the only real solution to replace their coal-fired plants and that it is the only solution for their growing energy needs. And by the way, renewables with storage will add cost and complexity to an already weak grid and thus will require replacing or upgrading it (it costs money and renewable prices will go up). And storage may never be cost effective. Wind and solar are only half the solution for the world's energy crisis and nuclear is the other half.
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