The city of Holtville in California is sometimes called the “Carrot Capital of the World.” This agricultural community has signed an agreement with Australian company Infratech to build a floating solar power system for its water treatment plant.
The project addresses three issues at the same time. The 1 MW system will power the water treatment plant with clean energy. Since the 3,576 solar panels will be floating on the surface of the treatment plant’s ponds, they won’t be taking up valuable farmland, which is an issue facing California’s expanding use of solar energy.
Lastly, by covering the surface of the ponds with solar panels, evaporation will be significantly reduced and the growth of blue-green algae will be greatly reduced because photosynthesis is limited by the lack of sunlight reaching the water. This in turn will decrease the need for chemicals such as chlorine to treat the water.
Holtville is actually quite close to the San Andreas Fault, so having this large solar system floating on rafts makes it immune to the effects of earthquakes.
California has ambitious goals for making the transition to renewable energy. It is also facing a serious water shortage. This system helps address both issues.
Infratech has already built a similar system in Jamestown in South Australia. That system not only powers the water treatment plant but also puts energy back into the local grid.
The Holtville system is expected to come online by the middle of the year. It is a great example of developing sustainable infrastructure to meet the needs of communities.
Photo courtesy of Infratech Industries.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.