Duke Energy is piloting a floating solar farm in Florida – the state’s first – on an existing cooling pond in Polk County.
The almost 1-megawatt (MW) floating solar array features more than 1,800 solar panels that float on top of two acres of the water’s surface on the pond – which used to be a phosphate mining pit – at the Duke Energy Hines Energy Complex in Bartow, southeast of Lakeland. It’s providing enough clean electricity to power around 100 local households.
The bifacial floating solar panels Duke uses in the project produce 10-20% more power than single-sided panels.
The project took around six months to construct and connect to the grid. The modular floating solar farm was assembled on land before crews anchored it in the pond. Between every other row of panels, there’s a walkway so crews can do electrical maintenance or inspections.
The floating solar pilot is part of Duke Energy’s Vision Florida program, which is testing other renewable projects as well, such as green hydrogen and battery energy storage. It’s previously piloted floating solar in North Carolina with the US Army.
Floating solar panels are cooled by the water, making them more efficient, and they also reduce water evaporation and limit algae growth.
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