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Australian company sells ground-breaking "floating solar" power system to US

Infratech Industries, an Australian-owned and operated sustainable infrastructure company, has sold and is exporting its flagship floating solar system to the City of Holtville in California. The vast bulk of the system is being manufactured in Australia, and marks the first export from Australia of this world-leading technology. 

The deployment of the one megawatt (1MW) floating solar system – which includes 276 rafts, 3576 panels and 12 treatment pumps, and will generate an estimated 20 per cent more power than a fixed land-based system – will power Holtville’s new water treatment facility. The system will save this precious commodity from evaporation as well as improve the quality of the water and reduce the council’s reliance on fossil fuels and treatment chemicals.

“Installing Infratech’s floating solar system is the right move for Holtville, and further proves our progressive approach to infrastructure and the environment,” said James Predmore, Mayor pro tem for the City of Holtville. “This move puts us ahead of the rest of the US.”

Infratech Industries, established in 2012, is an Australian company based in Sydney that specialises in sustainable infrastructure. It works with communities to develop and implement technologies and protocols that promote the evolution of renewable energy, waste processing, and water management systems. Earlier this year it unveiled the first floating solar system ever deployed in Australia in Jamestown, South Australia, in a climate similar to that of Holtville.

Holtville is known as the “Winter Salad Bowl” of the United States, with the agricultural heartland relied on to produce more than 80 crops. Holtville Council Member, David Bradshaw, who also serves as the assistant water manager for Imperial Irrigation District, said the deployment will enable Holtville to save valuable agricultural space for farming while simultaneously reducing its reliance on fossil fuels.

“Our decision to use Infratech’s floating solar system means we are not losing valuable farmland to massive solar farms; we can use three existing ponds and save our soil for increasing our capacity to produce crops,” he said.

With Holtville situated near the San Andreas Fault, any energy infrastructure has to be able to withstand earthquakes and tremors. With Infratech’s system able to float on water – and therefore can shift on the surface in the instance of tremors – and purpose-built and installed to withstand waves, Holtville is able to ensure the availability of its water supply and the energy needed to treat it during a crisis.

Additionally, the floating solar system will significantly reduce evaporation of the town’s drinking water and also decrease its reliance on chemicals to treat the water. As the system provides shade for the water, the photosynthesis process that creates blue-green algae is limited while consequently keeping the surface of the water cool and further raising the quality.

“We’re in the desert, and we lose more than five feet of water a year to evaporation while typically only receiving around three inches of rain annually. Also, our main source of water, the Colorado River via the Hoover Dam, is currently in drought,” he said. “Infratech’s platform will reduce evaporation as it reflects sunlight off the water, while treating the water and reducing our need for chemicals such as chlorine.

“Our residents use the water for drinking and irrigation, so this installation means the quality and taste of that water will improve while also ensuring we are on our way to meeting California’s renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030.”
The system is expected to be fully installed and operational by mid-2016.

The Holtville announcement follows Infratech’s successful deployment in 2015 of a floating solar system in Jamestown, South Australia. The Jamestown system powers the council’s water treatment facility and is the first of its kind in Australia.

Australian engineers and research scientists in the Nano Science and Technology Department of Adelaide’s Flinders University provided expertise and research for the Jamestown and Holtville projects.

“This is Australian technology, using Australian engineering to produce the bulk of the components of the rafts,” said Dr Rajesh Nellore, Chief Executive Officer, Infratech Industries. “The expertise inherent in Australian manufacturing has been dormant for some time through no fault of its own, but the development and deployment of sustainable infrastructure allows us to tap into that world-class expertise once again.

“Australia, like Holtville, is an arid area subject to harsh climates and drought. Floating solar and other sustainable initiatives can ensure farmers have access to renewable power and clean water without using valuable land. Holtville and Jamestown are proof points of what is possible when people look to sustainable infrastructure initiatives to power their communities.”

Source: PR Wire 

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