- A pilot floating solar power plant has been installed at Cape Town’s Kraaifontein Wastewater Treatment Works
- Its performance will be monitored for a full seasonal weather cycle, to ascertain its performance
- Basis the results, the project partners may use the technology for larger water bodies in Cape Town
The University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa will monitor the data of a ‘groundbreaking pilot’—a floating solar power plant set up at the Kraaifontein Wastewater Treatment Works in Western Cape using Ciel & Terre’s Hydrelio floating platforms.
A 1st for Cape Town according to the project partners, it was executed by a project developer called Floating Solar. The project will be studied for entire 12 months to cover a full seasonal weather cycle, and its results will help the project partners understand the technology and its potential application across other sites on larger bodies of water in the Mother City, also known as Cape Town.
“We know, somewhat intuitively, that the temperature of the solar modules in close proximity to the water surface should be cooler than if they were mounted on the ground; but it is difficult to model just how much cooler,” said Richard Larmour, of the Advanced Machines and Energy Systems (AMES) group and the Department of Electrical Engineering, UCT.
He explained this experiment will provide important empirical evidence of the actual temperature difference, which could be used to calibrate simulation models. “In the same way, we will be able to accurately quantify the impact of the system on water evaporation as a function of real local weather conditions,” added Larmour.
It makes sense to explore and later invest in floating solar as the city works towards reducing its reliance on grid connected electricity supplied by the sole national utility Eskom which is quite unreliable. At the same time, it solves the problem of procuring expensive and vacant land for larger installations.
Along with the UCT and Floating Solar, other project partners for this pilot are the City of Cape Town, and the Water Research Commission.