I recall when floating solar PV power plants popped onto the scene at some point in the past decade. On the one hand, the idea was so funny and fanciful that it seemed unrealistic. On the other hand, there appeared to be a lot of benefits to the approach — cooler surfaces (which help with solar panel efficiency, approx. 5–15%), fairly simple installation, no need to compete with other sectors for land use, no concern of shade, large and predictable spaces. The latter hand has indeed been winning out, as the floating solar PV market has been growing larger and larger.
The latest news of a large floating solar PV power project comes out of Singapore, a place that knows the challenges of limited land extremely well. The city-state, home to about 6 million people, launched one of the largest floating solar power plants in the world this week. The project will reportedly cover an area equal to 45 football fields! More specifically, but much harder for me to visualize without the previous comparison, the area covered is 45 hectares (111.2 acres). In total, there are 45,000 solar panels spread across the water. The purpose of this solar power plant floating over some good old H2O? Powering Singapore’s 5 water treatment plants, ironically.
That’s not where the fun of new tech used for good ends. Facility operators will use drones to monitor the PV facility. The solar panels are expected to last 25 years, but I would not be surprised to see them go much longer, especially with effective, smart maintenance.
The floating solar power plant is named Sembcorp Tengeh Floating Solar Farm and is located on the Tengeh Reservoir. The project, built by Sembcorp Floating Solar Singapore, a subsidiary of Sembcorp Industries, offers 60 megawatts (MW) of power capacity. A short video of progress to date was published a couple of days ago at the link above. As cool as the concept of floating solar PV power plants is, and as cool as pictures of a large project are, I don’t think the concept or a few pictures compare to watching a video of a large project (even one that’s just 55 seconds long), so I do recommend clicking that link above and watching the production from The Straits Times/Singapore Press Holdings Limited. (No, we don’t have any association with them or get rewarded if you do. I just think the video is super cool.)
For those concerned about the aquatic life under the innovative power plant, have no fear — extensive environmental analyses were conducted, the project is designed to allow adequate sunlight to go through to the plants and animals underneath, and this type of project has been shown to assimilate well with fish, mermaids, and other sea creatures.
Singapore has been sold on floating solar power. Aside from this large project, the city-state has 4 other floating solar projects under construction. I expect more to be announced in the future as well. Overall, Singapore is aiming to quadruple its solar power use by 2025, and let’s be honest, it’s not flush with deserts or underutilized fields — but it is surrounded by a fair bit of water.
Solar power is growing across the world at a fairly fast clip. However, as with almost all things, there are limitations. There are limitations with resources, trained workers, cash money, and time. Therefore, there is always a question of how best to spend money, where to spend it, and what to do after you’ve spent it. How and where should one — whether a person, company, or city-state — invest in solar power to maximize the result?
Clearly, Singapore has decided that floating solar PV projects make a lot of sense for its needs and resources. For anyone else still weighing options. Or, for that matter, for anyone looking to maximize the output from a solar power project already in the ground, I recommend checking out an upcoming solar webinar we’re hosting. Along with HST and a couple of others, we will be exploring how solar project developers can support a larger pipeline of high-quality utility-scale solar projects with the same amount of time and people. We will also be looking at what can maximize project attraction for potential customers. If this sounds interesting to you, you can register for the webinar (it’s free) here.
Quick Charge Podcast: October 3, 2023
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Tesla expands Cybertruck testing all the way to Mexico, adds new accessories
Tesla has expanded Cybertruck testing all the way to Mexico – in Baja California, at the starting point of a rally in which Elon Musk hinted the Cybertruck would perform well. The automaker also seems to be testing new accessories.
We expect Tesla to announce the Cybertruck launch event very soon, but in the meantime, the automaker seems to be continuing to test its electric pickup truck.
Prototypes have primarily been spotted in California and Texas throughout the year, but recently, the test program seems to have expanded.
A Cybertruck was spotted in Ohio this weekend, and it appears the same truck made it all the way to Florida. That’s the furthest east we have seen one of these trucks go.
Now, a couple of Cybertrucks have even been spotted in Mexico.
Erik Johnson posted on Facebook two pictures of two Cybertrucks charging at a resort in Ensenada, Mexico.
That’s actually the starting point of the Baja 1000 rally – one of the toughest off-road rallies in the world and an event that CEO Elon Musk referenced when talking about testing the Cybertruck’s suspension.
We’re working on increasing dynamic air suspension travel for better off-roading. Needs to kick butt in Baja.
The rally is still a few months away, but Tesla could be testing the water on the local terrain.
The same truck with the graffiti decal also appears to feature an accessory bar on top and what could be a Starlink antenna – better seen in this picture of the same truck.
Starlink, a satellite-based internet service made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, has a plan option for road vehicles, and it could be a particularly good match for Cybertruck owners who will want to take the electric vehicle off-grid.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
Volkswagen taps Tesla, Rivian vet to fix EV software issues
Delays at Volkswagen’s Cariad software unit have already caused Porsche and Audi electric model launches to be pushed back. To turn things around, Volkswagen is hiring a former Tesla, Rivian, and Google executive to lead a new software design hub for future EVs.
VW’s Cariad division has been a problem child for several years now. After draining money and failing to meet its targets, Cariad’s disappointment was reportedly a reason behind former VW Group CEO Herbert Diess’s departure. Diess established Cariad in 2020 to advance Volkswagen’s EV software to help it compete against Tesla.
Cariad is developing a uniform software and tech platform for the group’s next-gen EVs, but poor execution has led to significant delays and glitchy rollouts. The issues have delayed launches for the Porsche electric Macan and the new Audi Q6 e-tron.
Oliver Blume, who took the reigns from Diess as VW’s CEO last September, has faced the same issues. The leader is making it a priority to turn things around.
Blume appointed Peter Bosch, former Bentley production chief, as CEO in May. Now, the unit is adding some veteran talent from industry leaders Tesla and Rivian.
Volkswagen hires Tesla exec to boost EV software unit
Volkswagen has hired Sanjay Lal, a former Tesla and Rivian exec, to help finally advance the automaker’s next-gen software platform.
According to Bloomberg, Lal will join VW next month from Rivian, where he worked as vice president of software platform for two years. Lal joined Rivian from Google, where he was Director of Engineering for Android Automotive. From July 2017 to June 2019, Lal was director of engineering at Tesla.
Lal will lead a software design hub at Cariad. The hubs projects will be first applied to two EVs, an Audi and VW model. Eventually, the unit’s output will be used for scaling the software platform across the Volkswagen Group of brands.
The hiring comes after Volkswagen cut production at two German plants due to slowing demand. According to Automobilwoche, Volkswagen’s Zwickau plant will shut down one of two ID.3 production lines. VW revealed a $1.3 billion investment in 2018 to transform the plant to build EVs.
Software is becoming the new vehicle design. Buyers are looking for the latest tech and features rather than worrying about the brand name.
Volkswagen is quickly realizing this. After falling behind BYD in passenger car sales in its largest market, China, for the first time, you can sense the urgency.
The automaker invested $700 million into Chinese EV maker XPeng in July for a 5% stake to develop new electric models. Audi also established a long-term partnership with Chinese state-owned SAIC Motor to accelerate EV development in the region.
EV makers like Tesla, NIO, BYD, and others are becoming the go-to for new features and tech rather than Audi or Porsche vehicles.
Tesla and others continue improving their vehicles through software updates with new features that make the car smarter, safer, and more efficient. For example, Tesla rolled out a new software update Tuesday that automatically activates and speeds up its hazard lights following a crash.
Volkswagen will have a long way to go in catching up, but hiring some veteran firepower with direct industry knowledge could help speed up the process.
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