Duke Energy Florida plans to commence construction of its inaugural floating solar array pilot in Polk County, Florida later this month.
Covering roughly two acres of water surface on an existing cooling pond at the Duke Energy Hines Energy Complex in Bartow, the nearly 1-MW pilot project will feature more than 1,800 floating solar modules.
According to the utility, crews will construct and assemble the module floating system on land in segments before anchoring it in the water. The project is expected to take approximately five to six months.
The pilot forms part of Duke Energy's Vision Florida program, an initiative aimed at trialing innovative projects, including microgrids and battery energy storage, among others, to get the power grid ready for a clean energy future.
“We’re excited to get hands-on experience with Duke Energy Florida’s first floating solar project at one of our own power plant sites,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. “Unique pilots like floating solar are helping us better understand the capabilities of innovative clean energy technologies that can benefit our Florida customers and communities now and in the future.”
Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, supplies electricity to 1.9 million residential, commercial, and industrial customers across a 13,000-square-mile service area in Florida.
Other U.S. power utilities, such as Orlando Utilities Commission, also have tried floating solar projects to utilize non-land surfaces for renewable energy. A small number of floating solar projects also have been constructed in other countries such as Japan, France and China.