Latvian energy company DEREX announced that it has installed a floating solar farm in the Gulf of Riga with an installed capacity of 2.1 megawatts (MW), making it the Baltic region’s (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) first floating solar installation.
The system is expected to cover the full power demand of the Sloka wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Jurmala, Gulf of Riga, which currently makes up 40 per cent of energy costs for the regional water utility company Jūrmalas ūdens.
The farm was designed by Chinese energy company Sungrow and manufactured (solar modules) by French manufacturing company RECOM.
“Floating stations have not gained significant popularity in Latvia and the Baltic region yet, although this is the safest option for the fragile ecosystems typical of the region. The ‘islands’ on the water protect the surface from excessive sunlight, preventing the growth of underwater vegetation and preserving the balance and purity of the water ecosystem,” said Yulia Nikulina, Project Manager and Director of the DEREX Green Energy Division.
The project is estimated to reduce over 231,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. With a 30-year service life, the farm is said to be resistant to salt, fog, snow and ice as well as to the effects of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide on its materials and equipment.
“Furthermore, the water environment is optimal for the panels themselves, as the natural cooling effect of the water helps the station maintain a stable temperature. Even higher station performance is achieved by bifacial (two-sided) panels, which absorb the reflection of the sun from the surface of the water,” added Ms Nikulina.
As it was impossible to install a solar station on the ground, an unused pond in the western part of the Sloka WWTP was chosen as the installation site, said DEREX in the press release.
The city of Jurmala is surrounded by the Lielupe River and the Kemeri National Park and is covered by 64 per cent of natural areas including forests and water bodies. Sixteen per cent of the territory consists of reserves and nature conservation areas with rare species of flora and fauna.