EPM Launches Pioneering Solar-Power Array at Antioquia Hydroelectric Dam
Medellin-based multinational electric power giant EPM announced April 18 the launch of a novel floating solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation scheme at El Peñol lake, adjacent to the company’s 560-megawatt Guatape hydroelectric power station in Antioquia.
The floating PV station will be the first of its kind in Spanish-speaking Latin America, according to EPM.
The solar panels are projected to generate 10% to 15% more power than similar systems installed on land or on rooftops. Rationale: The floating panels can take advantage of unhindered solar illumination on lakes (where there are no shadows), get an extra boost of reflected light off the lake, and tap “free” lake water — conveniently available for cooling the panels, explained EPM general manager Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta.
The El Peñol array includes 368 panels, connected via submarine cable to an existing, nearby EPM electric power substation. Total area of the array covers 1,430 square meters, with each panel measured at 99 x 60 centimeters, according to EPM.
“With this system, which has an installed capacity of 100 kilowatts (kW) in two modules of 50kW each, we expect to generate approximately 145 megawatt-hours per year, enough to power 15 houses for a full year,” according to EPM.
The electricity generated by the new array will be used internally at EPM’s Guatape hydroelectric power station, according to the company.
A “big data” program will analyze the power-array’s efficiency and reliability in real time over the next 12 months. Depending on results of the test, EPM then would be able to define the feasibility of expanding similar floating-PV systems to more areas.
“In many countries, installing large-scale solar PV systems on land is inhibited by the lack of space available,” Londoño de la Cuesta said. “Because of that, floating PV stations could become an alternative,” he added.