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First stage of Brazil’s biggest floating solar plant inaugurated

The first stage of what is said to be the largest floating solar plant in Brazil has been inaugurated in the State of São Paulo.

The UFF Araucária project is located at the Billings dam and is being developed by Empresa Metropolitana de Águas e Energia (EMAE) and KWP Energia. The first stage, coordinated by Brazil’s Ministry of Environment, Infrastructure and Logistics, was delivered on January 17.

With 10,500 plates on the water surface and an initial investment of R$30 million (around $6 million), the plant has the capacity to produce up to 10 GWh per year, equivalent to the consumption of 4,000 homes.

The project has 7 MW peak installed power, with 5 MW of connection power and photovoltaic panels installed on high-density polyethylene floats. 

“The project is very interesting because we are taking advantage of the water mirror to generate energy, we have the first floating photovoltaic plant that will generate energy commercially in Brazil. It is an example that is here to stay and we must use this potential to generate clean, cheap and accessible energy. It is another step in our sustainability energy policy,” Tarcísio de Freitas, Governor of São Paulo, said.

Power generation will begin immediately after the issuance of an operating license by the State of São Paulo Environmental Company (CETESB).

According to the São Paulo government, the UFF Araucária project will be the largest in the country to operate commercially in distributed generation mode, with generators located close to consumption centers. The implementation of the project generated around 200 jobs in two months.

“This is a grandiose project, which leverages the photovoltaic sector on water slides. In this first phase alone, 80 direct jobs and approximately 120 indirect jobs were created by supplier companies. The forecast for the next two years is a lot of work with the installation of more plants. We are 100% committed to this objective,” said EMAE’s CEO Marcio Rea.

The plant is said to be one of the main sustainable energy development projects in São Paulo. Completion is scheduled for the end of 2025, with the delivery of another 75 MW of renewable energy and an investment of R$450 million.

“This plant is the realization of what we are pursuing in the state of São Paulo in relation to clean energy, energy transition and decarbonization. Our energy plan has a horizon until 2050 and, last year alone, we prospected more than R$20 billion in energy projects that focus on the circular economy. This means using clean energy to provide quality services combined with the environment and what, in fact, sustainability means,” said Natália Resende, São Paulo State Secretary of Environment, Infrastructure and Logistics.