Duke to build largest floating PV project in the Southeast

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Duke Energy has commenced the construction of its first floating PV project at Fort Bragg, a U.S. Army base in North Carolina. This will be the largest such project in the Southeast. This is according to recent details released by the company.

The company signed a $36 million contract with Fort Bragg for the floating PV project which is designed to improve resilience. The contract will include a 2-megawatt storage system tacked onto the solar project as well as lighting and water upgrades.

The contract to build the solar project has been awarded to Ameresco, a Massachusetts-based renewables developer, and energy efficiency company. The project will be built on the base. The project will be handed over to Fort Bragg upon completion.

The Duke project is expected to generate 1.1 MW of power and will be a notable addition to the U.S tidy but quickly growing floating solar market. According to WoodMac’s tracking data, an average floating PV (FPV) plant produces 1.5 MW. The largest floating solar project is a 4.4 MW installation in New Jersey which was launched last year. Currently, the U.S has installed just 9 MW of FPV hence Fort Bragg installation will be a significant addition to the country’s FPV portfolio.

Floating PV still represents a small fraction of total solar power generated

On a global scale, floating PV represents a small fraction of the larger solar market. It accounts for less than 2 gigawatts of the almost 600 GW installed around the world. Floating PVs are mostly used in Asia, where countries experience a lack of land. 87% of all floating PV projects that were installed in 2019 around the world came from Asia. On the other hand, North America only accounted for less than one percent of the floating PV projects developed last year.

It is projected that the U.S. will have up to 14 MW of floating PV projects installed by end of 2020 if the COVID-19 pandemic does not affect the timelines of many projects.