Floating PV comes to Universal Orlando Resort

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D3 Energy has brought floating solar to Universal Orlando Resort, announcing the completion of a 250 kW system located at the park’s entrance and branded with the logo of Comcast, Universal’s parent company.

The 645-panel installation covers roughly half an acre of the retention pond’s surface and is anchored to the bottom of the pond, which is 35 feet deep.

The installation’s prominent Comcast logo was created using a product called SolarSkin developed by Sistine Solar. According to the Boston-based tech startup, SolarSkin is a customizable graphic overlay that can be imprinted with any artwork and applied to solar arrays without affecting the efficiency of the modules underneath.

The project’s developer, D3 Energy, occupies an interesting and underdeveloped aspect of the U.S. solar industry: floating PV. Three years ago, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated that installing floating solar photovoltaics on the more than 24,000 man-made U.S. reservoirs could generate about 10% of the nation’s annual electricity production.

D3 Energy has also developed floating PV projects at the Altamonte Springs Water Facility in Altamonte Springs, Florida, the Orlando International Airport, the Orlando Utilities Operation Facility, and the Miami International Airport.

In a previous interview with pv magazine USA, Stetson Tchividjian, director of business development at D3Energy, said that he expects the cost gap between land-based solar and floating PV to close soon, citing floating PV’s lower operation and management costs, no land costs, and the increased efficiency of the panels.

“These factors over the system’s lifetime make floating solar as cost-effective–and, in some cases, less expensive–than land-based systems,” said Tchividjian.

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