California's Wine Country is Getting a Huge Floating Solar Farm

By Sarah Zhang on at

California has long been on the cutting edge of solar power, and now it has what be its most interesting plan yet: a vast solar array floating on top of wastewater ponds. The project will be built in Sonoma County, which you may know better as wine country.

Greentech reports that Sonoma Clean Power will build solar panels on docks across six of the local water utility's wastewater ponds.The 12.5-megawatt installation will provide enough electricity for 3,000 homes when it is expected to come online next year. It will be the biggest floating solar farm in the U.S.

Lately, floating solar farms have become a trendy idea around the world. Japan is building an even bigger one. India has a new one, too. Floating the solar panels over water has a dual advantage: The water provides natural cooling for the panels, and the panels prevent water evaporation.

If the floating solar farm works well in Sonoma County, there's pretty of opportunity for expansion. As Greentech notes, there are some 1,400 irrigation storage ponds in Sonoma County, many of them on vineyards. The same sunshine that makes your grapes could soon be powering homes. [Greentech]

Top image: Brandon Bourdages/shutterstock