Last week, a 200MW solar fishery came online in Cixi City in east China’s Zhejiang Province. The photos below show the immensity of the project. Dual use solar power comes in many forms: parking lot solar is always getting attention, walkable solar glass – like the project built by Apple (though I don’t think the Apple campus solar counts), and solar even roadways are now a thing. With the State of California considering requiring solar in all new construction, a slew of cities pushing the envelope already and Tesla’s Solar Roof coming, the near-term future has plenty of motivation for innovation in the building integrated photovoltaic market (BIPV). Will seeing things like solar-powered fisheries and roadways motivate more infrastructure integrated photovolatics?
In the United States, NREL believes private homes and rooftops alone can provide 40% of today’s electricity needs. And we can hit 40% taking into account that only ~25% of the buildings in the US were even considered appropriate for solar in the NREL study. The 2.2 million acres of parking lots would cover another 20% of US electricity needs. Covering roadways + parking lots – still a low probability, but an amazing possibility – would get us well over 100% of our electricity needs. Now maybe we cover coastal areas? Start farming fish and algae in solar covered farms?
This new project is certainly an interesting example.
The images were released by Xinhua in December and the People’s Daily in January. The 200MW project will produce greater than 220GWh/year of electricity. The project cost 1.8B RMB (US$260M) and covers an area of 300 hectares. The power generated by the station will be connected to the state grid, yielding an annual income of 240 million RMB (US$34M). In addition, another 13 million RMB (US$2M) will be earned through the fishery. Roughly, the system will pay for itself in seven to eight years.