As a consequence of the inability to use the land, the photovoltaic plant was built on the water sheet.
One of the biggest solar plant floating in Spain is located in the Irrigation Community of Merida.
The main problem for this irrigation community was the energy cost, as electricity bills increase during the strong months of the campaign, having reach until 200.000€.
In order to minimise this cost, the possibility of installing a conventional photovoltaic plant was raised, but, due to the lack of space, it was concluded that the only place to make the installation possible would be on the accumulation water pool.
The solar plant is composed by 1600 PV panels over the water, with an extension of 4 ha.
This irrigation plant is projected in 4 parts, at the moment only the first stage has been done, with an investment cost of 744.695,23€ and with a co-financing of the 75% by EAFRD fund.
Nowadays, the power of this irrigation plant is of 500kW. Nevertheless, in the future, with the other 4 stages created could reach 2,5MW.
This project was born by the hand of the MA of Extremadura, and thanks to this, the regional department of agriculture wrote a decree of energy efficiency.
The goal of this irrigation plant is to minimise costs of the agricultural holding and reducing the carbon emissions.
For the future, the Irrigation community is willing to make a hybridization system. The PV panels will be producing energy pumping water to the top. The water reservoir above would be used as a battery during the day and in the night or raining seasons will use the hydroelectric power.
The plan has meant an investment of 744,695,23 €. Nearly 600,000 € have been subsidized by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Government of Extremadura, under the framework of aid for energy efficiency. (EAFRD 75% - 25 % MA).
Evidence of success
The first evidence of success of the photovoltaic installation was on August 2019, when the Irrigation Community had a saving of 6.000 € on the electricity bill.
- Economic savings: 61.880 €/year.
- Energy savings: 640.000 kWh/year.
- CO2 emissions savings: 297 Teq(CO2)/year.
Potential for learning or transfer
This is a good example of optimization of land use by using renewable energy production technology. The main advantage for the community is to reduce the bill of the provision of electricity for pressurized irrigation.
Placing the photovoltaic panels on water and thanks to the cooling it suffers, increases energy efficiency by about 10%.
Equally, by covering part of the water sheet, it reduces the evaporation of water by 80% and prevents the proliferation of certain types of algae and microorganisms, which increases water quality and reduces the costs of hydraulic maintenance.
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