If you’ve ever been out in a boat on a hot summer day, you know that open water gathers a lot of sun and heat. Engineers in Japan are hoping to harness that power with the construction of what will be the planet’s largest floating solar power installation.
Japan’s Kyocera Corporation has already leveraged the power of open water with shoreline solar installations like the fixed Kagoshima Nanatsujima plant, pictured above. The new project, however, will be built around 50,000 solar collection modules actually afloat on the Yakamura Dam reservoir.
The modules will cover a water surface area of around 180,000 square meters. Engineers estimate the plant will generate more than 15.6 megawatt hours (MWh) per year. That’s enough to power approximately 4,700 average households.
More numbers: According to the company’s projections, the floating power plant will gather enough solar power from the surface of the dam to offset about 7,800 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The facility will also include an education center adjacent to the plant, to provide classes for local students on environmental issues.
“When we first started R&D for solar energy in the mid 1970’s, the technology was only viable for small applications such as street lamps, traffic signs and telecommunication stations in mountainous areas,” said Nobuo Kitamura, Kyocera senior executive officer, in press materials for the project.
“Since then, we have been working to make solar energy use more ubiquitous in society. We are excited to work with our partners on this project, taking another step forward by utilizing untapped bodies of water as solar power generation sites.”