Brazil uses dammed lake surface for floating solar panels

March 13, 2016 by Eugenia Logiuratto
The Balbina pilot project, to be completed by 2017, is a large platform with 50,000 square meters (540,000 square feet) of solar
The Balbina pilot project, to be completed by 2017, is a large platform with 50,000 square meters (540,000 square feet) of solar panels, about the size of five football fields

Two decades ago, a section of the Amazon rainforest was flooded for a dam that currently produces little electricity. Engineers now see that artificial lake as an ideal surface for floating solar panels.

Critics have blasted the Balbina dam, located near the equator line some 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the Amazonian city of Manaus, as an environmental crime.

The dam, which flooded some 2,400 square kilometers (930 square miles) of rainforest, was ordered built at great expense during Brazil's 1964-1985 military regime.

The artificial lake is so vast that from the dam's wall, the horizon barely comes into view.

But when it comes to generating , the dam is a bust: the Balbina hydroelectric plant, inaugurated in 1989 after a decade of work, currently produces a mere fifth of its maximum output of 250 megawatts.

"This is one of the biggest environmental crimes that engineering has committed in this country," said Energy and Mining Minister Eduardo Braga.

"How can we mitigate the cost of this crime? By improving the cost-benefit relationship of this power station," Braga said at the ceremony inaugurating the use of the first floating solar panels.

Floating solar panels are not new, but using them on a 's artificial lake is novel.

Critics have blasted the Balbina dam, located near the equator line some 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the Amazonian city
Critics have blasted the Balbina dam, located near the equator line some 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the Amazonian city of Manaus, as an environmental crime

This hybrid system uses the existing—and underutilized—power transmission infrastructure, as well as the flat water surface for the panels with no need to buy or expropriate new land.

Brazil drought hits hard

Brazil gets 60 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric power plants. But much of the country, including in the Amazon rainforest area, has been enduring a severe drought. Water levels at many Brazilian dams have dropped to dangerously low levels.

The Balbina pilot project, to be completed by 2017, is a large platform with 50,000 square meters (540,000 square feet) of solar panels, about the size of five football fields.

The dam, which flooded some 2,400 square kilometers (930 square miles) of rainforest, was ordered built at great expense during
The dam, which flooded some 2,400 square kilometers (930 square miles) of rainforest, was ordered built at great expense during Brazil's 1964-1985 military regime

The panels can produce five megawatts of electricity, enough to supply some 9,000 homes with power.

Engineers hope to increase the output to 300 megawatts, allowing Balbina to produce electricity for 540,000 homes.

"We're going to transform the hydroelectric power generators, that have limitations due to the weather, into unlimited power producers because they will also use solar energy," said Orestes Goncalves, president of Sunlution.

His company partnered with French firm Ciel et Terre to install the panels at Balbina.

The engineers have not said how much cheaper electricity could be for local residents, but one of the project's long term goals is to bring down utility prices.

Separately, engineers will measure the efficiency of this hybrid model with floating at two very different locations: at Balbina, where the rainforest weather is hot and humid, and at a dam in the hills of the semi-arid northeastern state of Bahia.

If successful, officials hope to expand the floating panel system via public tenders.

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15 comments

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Shootist
1.9 / 5 (9) Mar 13, 2016
idiots. you will never recoup the material, energy (dare I say it?) and carbon, costs associated with producing those photovoltaic arrays.
mrlewish
4.4 / 5 (7) Mar 13, 2016
Not idiots. I've heard this lie told time and time again. It usually only takes from 4 - 7 years to recoup the costs of installing solar panels. There are of course outliers, some in 2 years and some in 15.
antialias_physorg
3.5 / 5 (12) Mar 13, 2016
you will never recoup the material, energy (dare I say it?) and carbon, costs associated with producing those photovoltaic arrays.

It's bizarre where you get these factoids. Do you just make these up or does someone do it for you?

And since they are just made up: why do you feel it sensible to post them?
WillieWard
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 13, 2016
It is extremely ecologically friendly as the floating solar panels can cover entire lake's surfaces preventing plants and animals from breathing out CO2 into the environment.
Whydening Gyre
4.5 / 5 (8) Mar 13, 2016
It is extremely ecologically friendly as the floating solar panels can cover entire lake's surfaces preventing plants and animals from breathing out CO2 into the environment.

It ain't sealed from the atmosphere, WW...
Colbourne
4.1 / 5 (9) Mar 13, 2016
It may also help prevent evaporation thus keeping the dams more full.
gkam
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 14, 2016
And no nuclear waste!
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 14, 2016
waste!
ecologically friendly carcinogenics: hexavalent chromium, selenium, gallium arsenide, brominated diphenylethers, polybrominated biphenyls.
http://www.txses....end-life
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (4) Mar 15, 2016
It may also help prevent evaporation thus keeping the dams more full.

or maybe induce condensation...?
Whydening Gyre
4 / 5 (4) Mar 15, 2016
waste!
ecologically friendly carcinogenics: hexavalent chromium, selenium, gallium arsenide, brominated diphenylethers, polybrominated biphenyls.
http://www.txses....end-life

Think he might have ya on that one, George...
gkam
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 15, 2016
Nope. Did you go to the site?

BTW, do you have a computer? A phone? All that stuff was used to make them. Are you dead yet?

We understand that, and have worked with it for a generation or more. They are all concentrated, usually bound up, and easy to deal with, and are to be recycled.

As a former Integrated Circuit Test Engineer for National Semi, I know how they do it.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Mar 15, 2016
Nope. Did you go to the site?

BTW, do you have a computer? A phone? All that stuff was used to make them. Are you dead yet?

We understand that, and have worked with it for a generation or more. They are all concentrated, usually bound up, and easy to deal with, and are to be recycled.

As a former Integrated Circuit Test Engineer for National Semi, I know how they do it.

Always stuff that slips thru the cracks, George.
BTW, I don't recall you mentioning this new job (CTE for NSI) you used to have, before...:-) How does testing circuits relate... (if you wouldn't mind)?
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 15, 2016
The fabrication of ICs are like the fabrication of PV panels, with some hazardous substances used, as dopants, solvents, and the like. They are used to strict controls over that stuff. They are in Silicon Valley, have to deal with our own eco-freaks, and do not want to kill their employees.

Yes, from 1972 to 1974 I worked for National, first as a tech in Digital IC, then an engineer in Linear IC. For otto and Ira, it is how you get an engineering job without an engineering degree: You prove yourself.
gkam
1 / 5 (4) Mar 15, 2016
cont'd,

We were organized into small units by type, each one responsible for our own folk in fab, diffusion, backlap, test, and all other stuff, a small team which had to work together, understand the characteristics of the other parts.

When a line goes down or the reject rate increases, we have to understand the cause in a hurry, so we have to work together.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Mar 15, 2016
As a former Integrated Circuit Test Engineer for National Semi, I know how they do it
As a former serial job shopper and chronic job loser, and full-time liar and bullshit artist, george kamburoff has proven that he knows little to nothing.

You can't even learn that the people here are onto you. No wonder you have to pretend to know things.
so we have to work together
And I suppose this is why you lost this job as well?

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