Basque Country welcomes first floating solar power plant

Emica Bombas, a Biscayan industrial firm with more than a century of experience, has through its subsidiary Emica Solar developed and deployed a floating solar demonstrator plant based on design of a trimaran sailboat.

Emica Solar’s floating solar demonstrator in Álava (Courtesy of Emica Solar)
Emica Solar’s floating solar demonstrator in Álava (Courtesy of Emica Solar)

Established in March 2021 as part of Emica Bombas’ sustainable diversification strategy, Emica Solar has installed what is claimed to be the first floating solar power plant in the Basque Country.

Intalled on the water reservoir in Álava, the demonstrator prototype will serve for testing the assembly, maintenance and operation of the equipment.

The installation sits on a floating structure whose distinctive feature is a design inspired by the hull of a trimaran-type boat, which offers the advantages of greater stability combined with a smaller area in contact with the water.

The design is said to offer a ‘drastic reduction’ in natural evaporation, maintenance cost and the impact on aquatic flora and fauna.

It also allows the use of bifacial solar panels, which increase the energy efficiency of the installation thanks to a better exploitation of sunlight, and the cooling effect from the water below the surface of the plant.

Additionally, the panels can reach an inclination of up to 25 degrees in an installation like this, optimizing the use of solar radiation that results in greater energy production, Emica Solar claims.

The panels on Emica Solar’s floating solar plant can reach an inclination of up to 25 degrees, the company claims (Courtesy of Emica Solar)
The panels on Emica Solar’s floating solar plant can reach an inclination of up to 25 degrees, the company claims (Courtesy of Emica Solar)

Another advantage, according to Emica Solar, is related to the maintenance of water basins that need to be emptied periodically to clean bottom, whereby the trimaran structure allows for this operation to be completed without the need to dismantle the installation.

Emica Solar’s demonstrator plant in Álava consists of a total of 32 solar panels, covering an area of ​​140 square meters.

“In any case, the plant’s main objective is to validate and measure times in both assembly tasks and maintenance operations. Likewise, it will make it possible to analyze the evolution of water quality and verify if there are significant variations in temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, chlorophyll and other factors.

“Additionally, having equipment already installed represents an excellent demonstration tool for future customers, and in fact several companies have visited it and have been interested in this new type of energy generation,” Emica Solar said in a statement.

Floating solar plants can be located in natural or artificial lakes, reservoirs, basins for drinking water, canals or ponds for agricultural irrigation, or offshore.

It is estimated that, in Spain alone and excluding reservoirs, there are around 60,000 water ponds capable of hosting floating solar installations, according to Emica Solar, whose move to launch a demonstrator plan is in line with the plans of the Government of Spain to diversify its energy mix and include more renewable energy generation technologies.

Recently, the country’s Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) outlined regulations for the installation of floating solar plants in Spain, identifying over 100 state-owned reservoirs that are suitable for the development of floating solar plants

In terms of generation, the potential market throughout Spain is estimated at around 8,600MW in reservoirs and 10,000MW in water pools, Emica Solar said.

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