• Colombia’s EPM Group has launched a pilot floating solar power project in the country
  • The 100 kW capacity plant will be set atop El Penol reservoir in eastern Antioquia
  • It will comprise 368 solar panels divided into two units of 50 kW each
  • The plant is expected to generate some 145 MWh of solar power annually

Colombian utility Empresas Publicas de Medelin (EPM) will develop a floating solar PV plant at the El Penol reservoir in eastern Antioquia, Colombia. This 100 kW capacity pilot plant will be the first floating solar park project in Latin America, says EPM.

It will comprise 368 solar panels and will be spread on 1,430 m2 reservoir space. The panels will be divided into two 50 kW units. Once it is operational, it is expected to generate around 145 MWh of clean energy annually. There will be an underwater cable connected to a substation.

EPM is teaming up with local company ERCO for this project. An EPM unit Fondo de Capital Privado EPM Innovacion holds 40.9% share in ERCO.

“With this pilot project we seek to verify if the floating systems of solar panels have an energy performance of more than 10% or 15% compared to traditional systems on land or on the roof,” said General Manager of EPM, Jorge Londoño De la Cuesta. Thanks to its proximity to water floating solar systems are expected to have higher yields as the modules are cooled and take advantage of better reflection of irradiation from the water compared to usual ground.

For next one year post commissioning all data of the plant will be analyzed to decide about the feasibility of future floating PV projects.

In September 2017, Ciel & Terre and Innova Capital Partners signed an agreement to jointly develop floating solar power plants in Colombia. They are considering floating PV at 62 reservoirs that are classified as large dams by the International Commission of Large Dams (ICOLD).

EPM dove into the world of solar energy with the launch of its solar laboratory in 2013. In 2017, it participated in a research project in which 11 educational institutes in Antioquia were deployed with nanostructured solar cells. The company also installed a PV system at the El Tesoro Commercial Park in 2018 that is expected to generate 590 MWh of clean energy annually.