US’ ‘largest’ floating solar farm completed in wine country

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The 4.78MW project claims to be the US’ largest floating solar project to date. Image: White Pine

What’s claimed to be the US’ largest floating solar farm has been completed in the city of Healdsburg, California.

The Healdsburg Floating Solar Project, a 4.78MW array across two wastewater treatment ponds in Sonoma County, is operated by renewables company White Pine. Co-developed by White Pine and floating solar specialist Noria Energy, it claims to be the country’s largest installation of its kind to date.

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The project edges just ahead of the floating solar array to have previously laid claim to the throne; a 4.4MW project completed on a retention pond in New Jersey, which was energised in late 2019.

Land for solar development can be hard to find in Sonoma, due to the area’s wine industry. White Peak said in a statement that, in addition to capitalising on the space available, placing panels on these ponds will reduce algae growth and evaporation, preventing disease in neighbouring vineyards that are irrigated with treated water.

White Pine chief executive, Evan Riley, said the company “combined innovative technology and an efficient capital structure to provide long-term savings” to residents in the area.

The City of Healdsburg will be supplied electricity from the plant through a 25-year power purchase agreement, covering roughly 8% of Healdsburg’s energy demand. It forms part of the city’s wider aim to run on 60% renewable energy by 2030.

Noria’s CEO, Jon Wank, said the partnership “leveraged Noria’s experience in floating solar technology and White Pine’s development experience” to create the project.

Healdsburg’s utility director Terry Crowley called the array a “cornerstone” of the City’s long-term plan to run on 60% renewable energy by the end of the decade.

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