Source: Journal Gazette
The city of Fort Wayne is installing floating solar panels on the water pollution control plant’s wet-weather storage ponds, part of a strategy it says will provide financial and environmental benefits along with generating power.
Solential Energy of Carmel has installed one-fifth of the planned 12,320 panels so far, the city said in a statement. It said the project is to be completed and power generation is to begin late next year.
In a news release, the city called the panels an innovative use of solar technology. Local officials expect it will save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the carbon footprint of the city’s water and sewer facilities.
The panels are to become part of a City Utilities microgrid to supply power to the water and sewer plants, the release said. The microgrid will use a complex network of solar panels, battery storage, captured methane gas and natural gas to generate energy for the plants.
This system will reduce costs and add additional backup power capacity during storm-related emergencies that can cause power outages, the statement said.
“Our research investigated system efficiencies today and into the future, both environmentally and financially,” said a statement from Matthew Wirtz, City Utilities Deputy Director of Engineering. “We are confident we will increase reliability with our microgrid and see significant savings, avoiding projected electricity costs of $8-10 million in the first 20 years of the program and $60-70 million over 40 years.”
The work is still in the early stages, with the project completion and power generation slated to begin in late 2024. To date, 2,464 panels of the planned 12,320 solar panel installations are complete.
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement that the city must “continue to be mindful of how we care for the environment.”