Sobradinho hydroelectric plant, located in the state of Bahia, Brazil, is now upgraded with a floating solar system developed by Ciel & Terre in partnership with SUNLUTION. The combination of the two energies - Solar and Hydro - is an answer to meet the region's electricity consumption needs.
This 1MWp floating photovoltaic project, inaugurated this summer, was developed by SUNLUTION, a Brazilian company and Ciel & Terre’s licensee. Ciel & Terre fully designed the Hydrelio floating array and the anchoring system considering the needs of CHESF (São Francisco Hydroelectric Company) reservoir.
The first MW-scale floating PV plant in Brazil
After the 305 kWp floating solar plant installed on the Goiás farm by SUNLUTION, licensed from Ciel & Terre in Brazil, Sobradinho dam floating solar array is the first reaching the MW-scale in the country. The 1.01 MW plant took shape in the state of Bahia, on the São Francisco river, one of Brazil’s biggest stream. With its 3,792 panels, the floating solar facility is expected to produce 1.7 MWh per year. The Hydrelio floating solar system was produced locally in Brazil.
Yet, the plant is growing bigger. Sobradinho dam floating solar plant’s capacity should still increase by 1.5 MWp by January 2020. The facility should then reach 2.5 MWp and produce more than 4.2 MWh per year. Owing to the pond’s type, Ciel & Terre designed a specific bottom anchor system design, which is elastic and capable of supporting a water level variation of 13 m.
A promising combination…
The combination of hydro- and solar power is not fortuitous. It derives from the necessity to respond to the important energy demand at any time. Indeed, pairing the two technologies summarily prevents from any interruption in the energy production: hydropower takes charge of the solar power intermittence. In Sobradinho’s case, floating solar use is all the more relevant as the 1970’s dam has been altered by climate change (drought issues mainly), impacting directly the electricity needs, which were not entirely fulfilled any longer.
…in a high potential market
The client for Sobradinho dam’s floating PV plant, CHESF (Companhia Hidrelétrica do São Francisco), is an Eletrobras subsidiary, the biggest Brazilian energy company. CHESF currently owns and operates 12 hydroelectric plants, corresponding to 10 GWp of installed capacity. If the company uses 10% of the surface of all their reservoirs, they can install up to 52 GWp of FPV projects.
At a national scale, hydropower is actually the main power-generating source – 61% of the energy mix in 2017 according to Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (Country Analysis Executive Summary: Brazil, updated in April 2019). This strongly emphasizes the idea that hydro-PV systems show clear relevance for such a country. In addition, SUNLUTION estimates the Brasilian market can do up 2.5 GW of FPV in the next ten years.
Ciel & Terre International
Established in 2006 as a specialist in the integration of photovoltaic systems, C&T has been fully devoted to floating solar PV since 2011, developing HYDRELIO - the first patented and industrialized water-based PV concept. So far, the track-record of the company reaches over 310 MWp, equivalent to 170 projects.
From manufacturing to installation, C&T offers customized solutions. The floating PV group has a status of expert to support the projects' development and construction.
Sunlution is a Brazilian company specializing in the development of renewable energy generation using floating photovoltaic systems with floating technology – HYDRELIO, Sunlution is also licensed by Ciel et Terre for Brazil.
CHESF (Companhia Hidrelétrica do São Francisco) is an Eletrobras subsidiary, the largest energy company in Brazil. The company is responsible for electricity generation, transport and selling. CHESF is more specifically in charge of hydroelectric, wind and solar power amenities for the region of the São Francisco river.