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EghtesadOnline: Iran’s first small-scale floating solar farm became operational in Mahabad Petrochemical Plant in West Azarbaijan Province on Tuesday, head of the company said.

“The floating photovoltaic plant will annually supply 200,000 kilowatt hours of electricity to the national power grid,” Abbas Farshbaf was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Paid for by petrochemical company, the panels mounted on floating platforms were designed, built and installed by Iranian engineers and technicians.

The panels are mounted on 400 square meters of an industrial lake for generating electricity, reducing environmental pollutants and controlling water evaporation.

“In addition to water retention, which is particularly useful in areas susceptible to drought, the bodies of water that host floating solar arrays help cool the solar equipment, which means the panels produce electricity at higher efficiency in hot climate than otherwise.”

Solar panels are durable and can perform under high temperatures. But as with other electronics, with higher temperatures come decreased power output. Solar panel performance tends to decline as the mercury rises, which can is a concern for those wanting to install panels in hot and sunny regions. 

Floating solar panels can shade the water they float on and reduce evaporation by up to 70%. The rapidly increasing efficiency (at least 19%) of solar panels over water has led to the construction of large-scale floating solar farms in China, India, the UK and Japan.

Founded in 2016, Mahabad Complex is one of the 12 projects planned in the vicinity of West Ethylene Pipeline, a 1,200-kilometer-long pipeline transporting 2.5 million tons of ethylene per annum from Asalouyeh to manufacturers of downstream plastic products. 

The plant is capable of producing 300,000 tons of heavy polyethylene and linear and light polyethylene as well as 30,000 tons of butane1 per annum.


Isfahan Project

In related news, IRNA quoted Mohsen Mehralizadeh, the governor general of Isfahan Province as saying that work is in progress at a floating solar farm in Shahid Mohammad Montazeri Power Plant in the central province.

The 1 megawatt floating PV farm is being built since last year on 1.5 hectares of an industrial lake in the power plant.

The farm is designed to annually produce 1.9 million kWh.

“Floating plants reduce land requirement because they can be installed in industrial pools, drinking water reservoirs and small lakes.”

According to the World Bank, 10% of man-made freshwater reservoirs in Europe has the potential to produce over 200 gigawatts of power if floating panels were installed.


Tiny Share

Renewables have a small share in Iran's power industry. Less than 1,000 megawatts of the total 84,000 MW installed capacity comes from renewable energy

A total of 120 large-scale solar power stations and 3,500 smaller installations in urban and rural areas produce green energy.

According to the Sixth Five Year Economic Development Plan (2017-22), renewable energy should comprise at least 5% of the total power output.

Regrettably this volume now is slightly over 1% indicating that pledges to expand renewable energy remain only on paper.

Private companies have invested around $1 billion in the renewable sector, mainly solar and wind. Due to government funding constraints, private firms have been asked to play a bigger role in promoting clean energy.

Energy Ministry data show that 44% of green energy is from solar, 40% wind power, 13% small hydroelectric plants, 2% geothermal and 1% biomass.


Iran Power Plant Azarbaijan Petrochemical Plant Mahabad