Quantcast

Brazil to Build World's Largest Floating Solar Farm Amidst Devastating Drought

Business

With Brazil's historic drought drying up its hydroelectric plants, the South American country is turning to solar power to help relieve its foreboding energy crisis.

Brazil's devastating drought has depleted its reservoirs causing the nation to consider alternative energy options besides hydropower, which supplies more than 75 percent country's power.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The nation announced that within four months, it will commence pilot tests of a gigantic floating solar farm located atop the Balbina hydroelectric plant in the Amazon. It's currently unclear how physically large the floating farm will be, but the enormous reservoir it will sit on covers 2,360 square kilometers.

At 350 megawatts, Brazil's ambitious project would easily trump Japan's currently largest 13.4 megawatt floating solar power plant in terms of power output. To put that in another perspective, the largest solar farm in the world is the 550 megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in California.

Diversifying energy sources is clearly a necessity for the notoriously parched country. Brazil is experiencing its worst drought in four decades, causing electricity blackouts in many regions. Below-average rainfall in the last few years have depleted its reservoirs, thus gutting its formerly plentiful supply of hydropower, which supplies more than three-quarters of the country's electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

As Climate News Network reported, "the reservoirs in the drought-affected region could fall to as little as 10 percent of their capacity, which ... Mines and Energy Minister Eduardo Braga admits would be 'catastrophic' for energy security."

While the sunny country has tremendous potential for solar power, Brazil has been slow to embrace this form of renewable energy. It was only in October 2014, when Brazil made its first foray into this sector with the construction of 31 solar parks, its first large-scale solar project with a combined capacity of 1,048 megawatts.

A shift to solar energy might be fitting, as the Balbina Dam (where the proposed solar farm will eventually sit) has been criticized for emitting more greenhouse gases than a coal-fired power plant.

"We are adding technological innovation, more transmission lines, diversifying our energy generation source, introducing solar energy in a more vigorous manner and combining solar energy with hydroelectric energy," Braga told reporters about the solar farm project.

"We are preparing ourselves to win the challenge in 2015 and be able to deliver a model and an electric system starting in 2016 which will be cheaper, more secure and with greater technological innovation,” Braga said. Electricity produced at the farm is expected to cost between $69 and $77 per megawatt hour, reports say.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Gloom Does Not Have to Mean Doom for California’s Epic Drought

75,000 New Jobs to Enter Solar Workforce, Including Military Veterans

Find Out Which City Just Committed to Going 100% Renewable

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A baby burrowing owl perched outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida. LagunaticPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.

Read More
Amazon and other tech employees participate in the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice continue to protest today. Karen Ducey / Getty Images

Hundreds of Amazon workers publicly criticized the company's climate policies Sunday, showing open defiance of the company following its threats earlier this month to fire workers who speak out on climate change.

Read More
Sponsored
Locusts swarm from ground vegetation as people approach at Lerata village, near Archers Post in Samburu county, approximately 186 miles north of Nairobi, Kenya on Jan. 22. "Ravenous swarms" of desert locusts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia threaten to ravage the entire East Africa subregion, the UN warned on Jan. 20. TONY KARUMBA / AFP / Getty Images

East Africa is facing its worst locust infestation in decades, and the climate crisis is partly to blame.

Read More
The Antarctic Peninsula on Feb. 28, 2019. Daniel Enchev / Flickr

By Dan Morgan

Antarctica is the remotest part of the world, but it is a hub of scientific discovery, international diplomacy and environmental change. It was officially discovered 200 years ago, on Jan. 27, 1820, when members of a Russian expedition sighted land in what is now known as the Fimbul Ice Shelf on the continent's east side.

Read More
The seafood market in Wuhan, China that has been linked to the spread of the new coronavirus. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP via Getty Images

China banned its trade in wild animals Sunday until the new coronavirus, which was linked to a market in Wuhan where wildlife was sold, is eradicated. Now, conservationists are calling on the country to make the ban permanent.

Read More