LA Councilman Englander seeks to place Floating Solar Panels on Los Angeles Reservoirs

By on May 2, 2018

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander is looking to launch a pilot project to establish “floating solar” panels on Los Angeles reservoirs in an effort to test the feasibility of these environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient projects. Fifty percent of the electricity used by retail sellers and publicly owned utilities will be required to be from renewable energy resources by 2030 according to the State Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).

Floating solar panels are an emerging and extremely efficient from of renewable clean energy already in use in China and Japan. Floating solar conserves water by reducing surface evaporation and is known to prevent harmful algae growth by blocking sunlight. The water-based panels have greater efficiency of output due to the cooling effect of water and there are no land-use expenses involved with the installation of the solar panels.

“Los Angeles is in a unique position to lead the country in the adoption of clean, renewable energy,” Councilmember Englander said. “With our geography, our climate, and our city-owned and operated utility, we have all the ingredients we need to push for the wide-use and adoption of solar energy. By co-locating these panels on city owned reservoirs, we eliminate the land-use cost and impacts of traditional solar panels.”

Councilman Englander was joined representatives of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) in bringing the floating solar panels concept forward. Nancy Sutley, LADWP chief sustainability officer and Marty Adams, LADWP COO, joined Englander late last month at the Los Angeles Reservoir in announcing the solar panels pilot project.

“LADWP is committed to renewable energy and a big part of putting us on the path to meeting the next milestone of 33 percent renewables by 2020 is investing in good, local projects that create clean energy in our own backyards,” said Adams. He continued saying, “We want to thank Councilman Englander for introducing this motion that will help get the ball rolling here in the City on the innovative idea of floating solar.”

The initial pilot calls for approximately 11.6 Megawatts (MW) of solar installation on LADWP reservoirs. That equates to enough energy to power approximately 3,190 homes per year and to offset 15.9 million lbs. of CO2 emissions per year, or the equivalent of removing 1,567, cars from the road. LADWP estimates that Los Angeles reservoirs have an achievable potential of 53 MW which translates to the electrical use of 21,000 homes annually or the equivalent of taking 10,320 cars off the road.

Although Englander did not indicate the costs involved in getting the solar panels’ pilot project up and running, he did discuss one funding option for the project.  Los Angeles television ABC 7 recorded Englander saying, “What we’re looking at is creating some kind of public-private partnership with an opportunity for some vendors to get involved in a power purchase agreement where we’re not actually spending any money, or very little out in front of it, and we’re getting it all in return because we’re generating our own power.”