Are floating solar farms the solution? The land use needed for generating energy can be avoided by constructing solar arrays on the water - and any large body of water such as a lake or a reservoir will do. As an additional benefit, the cooling effect of the water has been shown to make the solar panels more efficient than land-based panels, with the potential to generate far more energy than roof or ground-mounted systems.
To date, however, virgin plastic has been the material used to build the pontoons on which the arrays are mounted. Now PlasticBean, an Archwey company and supplier of a proprietary material made from ocean-bound and post-consumer waste plastic called Bluewave, and clean energy solutions provider EDPR Sunseap have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore the use of this Bluewave material in future floating photovoltaic solar farm projects in Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea. According to the two partners, both headquartered in Singapore, this would help to significantly reduce the amount of virgin plastic used in construction, representing ‘a big step toward a 100% renewable future’.
Bluewave is a 100% recycled and recyclable thermoplastic material derived from marine plastics, ocean-bound plastics, post-consumer waste and occasionally even post-industrial waste, depending on the end-use application. The waste is collected from riverbanks and coastal areas mainly in China and SE Asia. The material has already been used to produce products ranging from hangers - produced by sister company Arch & Hook - to pill bottles, furniture, and now, solar farm pontoons.
In the past 18 months alone, Archwey has recycled 32,500 tonnes of plastic waste, preventing this from entering the environment and producing a recycled material with a substantially smaller carbon footprint compared to conventionally produced resins. Moreover, both EDPR Sunseap and Archwey said the cost of the recycled plastic will be similar to or lower than oil-based virgin plastic.
EDPR Sunseap is always on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate with innovative partners to help keep our planet clean for the next generation, said EDPR Sunseap Business CEO Mr Frank Phuan. The company completed one of the world's largest floating solar farms on seawater in the Straits of Johor last year, and views floating solar as an effective solution in the renewables strategy of land-scarce and densely populated places like Singapore.
Calling the MOU an important milestone in its mission to reverse the ‘damage humanity has done to our planet over the past century’, Archwey CEO Mr Sjoerd Fauser said it was a huge step to a truly sustainable world. “Virgin plastic, made using oil, is one of the planet’s biggest pollutants,” he said. Like Archwey, EDPR believes a better future is possible.
“Using recycled plastic rather than virgin plastic in the construction of renewable energy farms demonstrates conscious action and contribution to building a sustainable future.”
EDPR Sunseap is part of EDP Renewables, a global leader in the renewable energy sector and fourth largest wind producer worldwide with 14.3GW installed and present in 28 markets.
Archwey is the global holding group of the three sustainable materials engineering companies Arch & Hook, Shieldler and PlasticBean. Archwey aims to achieve B Corp certification for all subsidiary companies within the next two years.