Build a floating solar plant | Letters to the Editor | – Citrus County Chronicle

I am amazed at the number of large solar (PV Photovoltaic) plants that are being built around the world. Today I read about a massive new solar plant in the country of Morocco, that will send its electricity to England via a 1,200-mile-long underwater cable. This project will eventually provide 7% of the electrical energy for England. I am also surprised at the number of floating solar plants that are being developed. This is especially true for Asian countries like Japan where open land is scarce. Any protected body of water could be suitable.

This got me thinking about our own Tsala Apopka Lake system. So, I went to Google Maps and did some measuring. I figure that 10 square miles of floating solar panels could comfortably be scattered among the various sub lakes. The floating panels could be placed in the least obtrusive locations. I don’t think the fishing people would be bothered too much. There is the question of the panels shading out the bottom of the lakes. Consider the large amount of money spent controlling invasive aquatic vegetation, the shading could be a good thing. The panels could be moved around to cover infestations. Maybe, the floating panels would help produce more fish.

So, how much electricity would 10 square miles of solar panels produce and how much electricity for Citrus County could be provided? This is a very rough guess and only serves as a starting point. To begin with a square mile of solar panels produces per day on average 1,000,000 kWh (kilo watt hours) or 10,000,000 kWh for 10 square miles. Now the question is how does that compare to the electricity you use and Citrus County costumes? For Florida, the average electrical household consumption for a month is 1,123 kWh or approximate 40 kWh per day. There are 65,000 household units in Citrus County. The commercial consumption of electricity is close to the residential level. So, adding commercial and household you have 130,000 units times 40 kWh per day. So, Citrus County uses 5,200,000 kWh per day. So as a guess, a 10-square-mile floating solar farm on the Tsala Apopka Lake system would produce twice our daily electrical need. Of course, the big issue would be the storage of this electricity for night time use. The average power plant produces 138,000,000 kWh a day.

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Chris Conklin


May 15, 2021 Mary Sparks