Brazil Is Building A Giant Floating Solar Farm

'Sun and surf' takes on a whole new meaning

Generally when you think of solar power, the sun beating down on a dry, dusty desert might come to mind. But in Brazil, a new project will see solar panels installed on a much wetter surface: the surface of a reservoir.

As the renewable energy industry continues to boom, floating solar panels are having a moment, getting installed in India, Korea, Australia, and even the United States. In addition to being a clean, green source of energy, the combination of solar panels and bodies of water is beneficial for other reasons as well. By shading the water, the panels reduce evaporation, helping conserve water in drought-prone areas.

The floating solar panels in Brazil will have a capacity of 350 megawatts, making it one of the largest floating solar farms anywhere in the world. Currently, Japan holds the record for the largest floating solar farm with an output of about 13.4 megawatts.

A unit of electrical power, the megawatt is used to quantify how much electricity a power plant produces. To put those numbers in perspective, the average output of a coal fired power plant in the United States is about 239 megawatts. Not only will this floating solar farm theoretically outpace that, but the reservoir that the panels will be installed in is also a source of hydroelectric power, with a capacity of about 250 megawatts. That’s a total maximum output of 600 megawatts.

The amount of homes that a single megawatt can power varies by a lot–depending on a number of factors–but one estimate says that a single megawatt can power 164 homes in the United States.