Floating on a reservoir near New Jersey American Water’s Canoe Brook Water Treatment Plant in Millburn, N.J., is the East Coast’s first solar array on a body of water designed to withstand a freeze/thaw environment.
The 538 solar modules will generate 135 kilowatts of DC power, which will then be converted to 115 kilowatts of AC power, generating approximately 2% of the water treatment plant’s power.
Annually, the solar field will produce 135,000 kilowatt hours per year. New Jersey American Water estimates a savings of approximately $16,000 per year in energy costs.
The $1.35-million project is a pilot for New Jersey American Water as the company monitors the effectiveness of the solar station during changes in weather and also considers adding more solar panels on the 735-million gal reservoir.
The Canoe Brook Water Treatment Plant sits on more than 500 acres of protected land and only a small portion of the property can be used for construction and/or operational purposes. With such little space available, the spacious reservoir is the most viable place to install solar power.
New Jersey American Water chose ENERActive Solutions of Asbury Park, N.J., to design and build the solar station. To the benefit of the company’s ratepayers, some of the cost of the project may be offset through solar tax rebates obtained through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
This is the fourth solar project that New Jersey American Water has implemented at one of its facilities. The company’s Canal Road Water Treatment Plant in Somerset, N.J., has one of the largest ground-mounted solar arrays on the East Coast which generates nearly 20% of the plant’s power.
This past summer, New Jersey American Water added a 150-kilowatt solar field to a well station in Farmingdale, N.J., and anticipates a savings of $20,000 per year in energy costs.
In fall 2010, New Jersey American Water installed “solar bees,” which are also anchored on Reservoir No. 1 at the Canoe Brook Treatment Plant. The “bees” constantly circulate water in the reservoir to improve water quality. An additional solar installation is planned for the company’s Delaware River Regional Water Treatment Plant in Delran, N.J.
The floating solar array is one of the sustainability improvements underway at the Canoe Brook site in Millburn where the company will unveil a new water treatment plant in 2012. The new plant will replace the current 1920s-era plant that has served the surrounding communities for most of the last century.