Construction begins on largest floating solar project in the US

NJR Clean Energy Ventures (CEV) has started construction on an 8.9-MW floating solar installation in Millburn, New Jersey, that will be the largest floating array in the United States.

Using a floating racking system, 16,510 solar panels will be installed on a reservoir located at the New Jersey American Water Canoe Brook Water Treatment Plant. The clean power generated by the array will provide approximately 95% of the facility’s annual power needs through a power purchase agreement with CEV.

“Floating solar technology creates new opportunities for bodies of water to be a home for large-scale renewable energy generation and bring the benefits of clean energy to even more customers,” said Steve Westhoven, president and CEO of New Jersey Resources. “As a leader in New Jersey’s solar marketplace, we look forward to working with New Jersey American Water to support their power needs and advance the state’s clean energy and climate goals.”

The Canoe Brook project was developed by Solar Renewable Energy (SRE) and RETTEW is providing engineering, procurement and construction services. CEV acquired the fully permitted and approved the project in Q1 2022. With construction underway, the installation is expected to be fully operational in Fall 2022.

“As the state’s largest water and wastewater utility company, it is essential for us to be good stewards of the environment by operating efficiently and in a manner that helps protect our natural resources,” said Mark McDonough, president of New Jersey American Water. “This initiative provides a meaningful reduction of traditional energy use that benefits the environment, as well as our customers through limited capital expense and reduced power costs.”

Floating solar projects offer a solution to the challenge of finding suitable locations to accommodate large-scale commercial solar installations. Built mostly on man-made lakes or reservoirs, where tides and salt water will not impact the panels, floating solar projects turn underutilized space into clean energy. Floating solar panels can also help reduce evaporation and algae growth, which protects the water source. Additionally, water provides a cooling effect on the arrays, which helps the panels operate more efficiently.

“NJR Clean Energy Ventures and New Jersey American Water have been fantastic partners for developing this challenging project. Through innovative deal structuring, the Canoe Brook team has crafted a project that maximizes the economic benefits of renewable energy, while focusing on New Jersey American Water’s core mission for safe and reliable water service,” said Douglas Berry, president and CEO of SRE.

Clayton Bubeck, president and CEO of RETTEW added, “The Canoe Brook project advances floating solar in the United States, combining the newest technologies for large wattage bifacial panels with next-generation floats and anchoring. We’re thrilled to again construct the largest floating array in the United States.”

Canoe Brook will be the second floating solar project in CEV’s portfolio. The first, a 4.4 MW array located in Sayreville, New Jersey that was also developed by SRE, was added in 2020.

News item from NJR Clean Ventures

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