Noria Energy launches South America’s largest floating solar project at Colombia’s Urrá Dam

Noria Energy launches South America’s largest floating solar project at Colombia’s Urrá Dam

SAUSALITO, Calif., /PRNewswire/ — A new solar power system floating on the reservoir at Colombia’s Urrá Dam will demonstrate that hydroelectric dams dealing with fluctuating water levels can pair with floating solar generation to boost energy reliability and increase production.

Noria Energy conceived and led development of the 1.5 MW solar project, which is the largest of its kind in South America. Noria also developed one of the largest floating solar systems currently operating in North America: a 4.78 MW system that provides about 8% of the electricity for the city of Healdsburg, California.

“Worldwide, around 60% of renewable energy comes from hydropower. That represents countless opportunities to deploy floating solar that can maximize zero-emission energy generation and diversify clean energy sources,” said Noria Energy CEO Jonathan Wank.

In addition to boosting total generating capacity of hydroelectric dams, Noria’s floating solar systems can help keep power flowing when low water levels or other adverse conditions reduce hydroelectric output. The floating solar system is designed to sit on top of the water and withstand water-level fluctuations of up to 120 feet.

Siting solar facilities on water also avoids land-use conflicts, and pairing them with dams takes advantage of existing interconnection and other energy infrastructure.

Noria Energy, along with its partners 1Solution, DISICO S.A, G&C, Isigenere, and Seaflex, designed, developed, and installed the floating photovoltaic system as a pilot project for the independent power producer URRÁ S.A. E.S.P.

“URRÁ seeks to incorporate innovation and sustainable development in all its operations. We are very proud that Aquasol is the largest floating photovoltaic plant built at a reservoir of a hydroelectric power plant in South America to date,” said Rafael Amaya del Vecchio, president of URRÁ S. A. E.S.P. “URRÁ thanks Noria for leading the design of the photovoltaic system and the other companies of the Aquasol consortium for helping us make this project a reality.”

The Urrá pilot – called Aquasol – is installed at the 340 MW Urrá hydropower plant in the Sinú River basin in Córdoba. Aquasol consists of over 2,800 solar modules and is expected to produce nearly 2,400 MWh of power in its first year — enough to offset the amount of energy it takes to operate the dam. Additionally, Aquasol is expected to avoid more than 1,540 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, and generate over $1.2 million in additional electric power revenue over 20 years.

“Our technology demonstrates that we can expand solar’s reach and reimagine its power to address critical energy needs. I’m thrilled that my home country is hosting this innovative project,” said Colombia native Jairo Criollo, Noria’s co-founder and head of business development. “What we have learned from this project will help us develop other Aquasol projects in Colombia and around the world.”

As part of the pilot project, Noria Energy will assist in comparing Aquasol’s production and efficiency to that of a ground-mounted solar system installed on the shore. Additionally, Noria will use the data from Aquasol to design and model larger-scale systems to maximize the generation potential of floating solar and hydroelectric dams.

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