BlueWave Solar partners with Laketricity to develop floating solar projects

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BlueWave Solar formed a joint venture with Laketricity, a unit of France-based Ciel & Terre, to develop floating solar photovoltaic, or “floatovoltaics,” projects in Massachusetts with intent to expand throughout the Northeast.

The agreement makes BlueWave Solar Laketricity’s first New England partner.

BlueWave said that water-based projects are important in places like Massachusetts, where building on man-made ponds and reservoirs address land use problems and “ensures no disruption to the state’s terrestrial habitats.”

Floating solar arrays can also be deployed as an alternative to land-based solar farms in areas were land is in short supply or in dry places where it can be installed at man-made reservoirs to help mitigate evaporation. In 2018, 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.

Floating around

In April, Pine Gate Renewables said it would site 9 MW of solar-plus-storage over cranberry bogs in southeast Massachusetts. Solar Carver 1 would be built on a 70-acre site and generate 5 MW of solar energy, accompanied by 30 MWh of battery storage. Solar Carver 3 would have a capacity of 2 MW and include a 12 MWh battery storage system across a 35-acre site.

Floating PV at at a California winery.

Image: SPG Solar

To keep the locations dual-use, Pine Gate’s EPC team will engineer the projects to rest on more than 3,300 40-foot-long wooden utility poles, which are expected to be more durable for the wet terrain. The poles will be driven 15-30 feet into the ground to keep the trackers at least 10 feet above the cranberry bogs and allow for annual harvesting.

In March, White Pine Renewables completed a floating solar array in northern California that the company claimed to be the largest in the United States. The 4.8 MW Healdsburg Floating Solar Project was installed on ponds at the City of Healdsburg’s wastewater treatment plant. It will deliver energy to the city under under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

The project site and floating PV approach were chosen to help reduce evaporation and algae growth at the ponds, benefitting nearby vineyards that use the water for irrigation.

BlueWave Solar is currently involved in dual-use solar development, through agrivoltaics, a project design model that allows agricultural production and solar to coexist on the same space.

Ciel & Terre has installed over 230 floatovoltaic projects globally, and 21 projects in the U.S. representing more than 162 MW of power. BlueWave has developed and sold more than 155 MW of solar projects to date.

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