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Floating solar panel technology drives low-cost clean energy generation

Hydrelio®, produced with Braskem resin, enables solar panel installation on water reservoirs, thus increasing generation capacity; application should receive a boost from the recent approval of Resolution no. 954

The challenging scenario caused by the water crisis in various regions of Brazil, has boosted the development of solutions within the electric power industry that use new technologies to meet the growing demand for cheap, clean energy from renewable sources. That is the case of Hydrelio®, a floating structure produced with Braskem resin, which enables installing solar panels on water reservoirs, such as hydroelectric power plants, thus increasing their production capacity.
 
Developed by Ciel et Terre, a French company specialized in photovoltaic system integration and represented in Brazil by Ciel et Terre Brasil Manufacturing, it is a pioneering solution for floating solar generation plants in the world market, consisting of photovoltaic panels placed on Braskem's high-density polyethylene floats. Installation in Brazil is carried out by Sunlution.
 
Besides hydroelectric power plants, floating solar panels can be installed on other types of water surfaces, such as industrial lakes and retention ponds, irrigation and potable water reservoirs, desalinization and water treatment plants, and dams and channels on agricultural and livestock properties. Since November of 2021, such applications benefit from the approval of HYPERLINK "https://www.in.gov.br/en/web/dou/-/resolucao-normativa-aneel-n-954-de-30-de-novembro-de-2021-364715864" ANEEL [Agência Nacional de Energia Elétrica (National Electric Energy Agency)] Resolution no. 954, which regulates the implementation of Hybrid and Associated Power Generation Plants.
 
Sensitive to this scenario and seeking to support its partners in developing the Brazilian market, Braskem engaged in not only adjusting the polyethylene resin, but also in identifying processing companies for float production in Brazil and business modeling for the local market. 
 
"Braskem's role was crucial in developing this solution. Initially, the request was to define a resin that would meet the technical requirements for floats, but turned into a high potential business opportunity given the variety of markets in which Hydrelio® can be enabled and used", explains Jorge Alexandre Oliveira Alves da Silva, responsible for PE Market Development for civil construction and infrastructure at Braskem.
 
The result of such efforts by Braskem has already been acknowledged by partners, as stated by Luiz Piauhylino Filho, partner and director at Sunlution. "There are various significant benefits to using this technology. Besides boosting power generation from a renewable source, when a solar panel is installed on a water surface, land is free to be used for farming, as an example. The solution also reduces costs in connecting to the electricity grid, as well as cheaper and simpler maintenance compared to conventional systems", says the executive, pointing out that Hydrelio® is capable of reducing evaporation by up to 70% on installed sites, which inhibits algae and micro-organisms from proliferating and compromising water quality.
 
Success case

Companhia Hidro Elétrica do São Francisco (Chesf), an Eletrobras subsidiary and concessionaire of one of the largest electric energy generation and transmission systems in Brazil, is one of the companies that already uses Hydrelio® for power generation. In 2018, Chesf installed a floating solar power generation system in the hydroelectric power plant it has in Sobradinho (state of Bahia, BA), increasing local productivity, reaching 1 Megawatt-peak (MWp). 
 
"We are committed to innovative and sustainable paths, with the hybrid power generation model as a way of boosting the domestic energy market, which is going through a transition period", says José Bione de Melo Filho, Manager of the Research, Development and Innovation Department at Chesf.

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