North America’s largest floating solar array supports N.J. water treatment plant

June 7, 2023
Owned by NJR Clean Energy Ventures, these 16,510 floating solar panels will provide 95% of the power needs for New Jersey American Water’s water treatment plant.

New Jersey Resources (NJR) Clean Energy Ventures announced that it now owns and operates the largest floating solar array in North America, supporting 95% of the power needs for New Jersey American Water’s Canoe Brook Water Treatment Plant.

The 8.9 megawatt solar array covers 17 acres of the Canoe Brook reservoir in Short Hills, New Jersey with 16,510 solar panels.

Owned and operated by NJR Clean Energy Ventures, the renewable energy subsidiary of New Jersey Resources (NJR), the array uses an innovative racking system that enables the panels to float on water. Projects like this offer a novel approach to developing solar and a practical solution to the challenge of finding suitable locations to accommodate large scale commercial solar installations.

“Floating solar technology creates new opportunities for underutilized bodies of water, allowing space that would otherwise sit vacant to enable large-scale renewable energy generation, which helps to bring the benefits of clean energy to even more customers,” said Robert Pohlman, vice president of NJR Clean Energy Ventures. “As a leader in New Jersey’s solar marketplace, we look forward to working with New Jersey American Water to support its power needs and advance the state’s clean energy and climate goals.”

Built mostly on man-made lakes or reservoirs, where tides and saltwater will not impact the panels, floating solar projects turn beneficial use space into clean energy. Innovative approaches to clean energy, like Canoe Brook, are increasingly important in densely populated areas, such as New Jersey.

“As the state’s largest water and wastewater utility company, it is essential for us to be good stewards of the environment by operating efficiently and in a manner that helps protect our natural resources,” said Mark McDonough, president of New Jersey American Water. “This initiative provides a meaningful reduction of traditional energy use that benefits the environment, as well as our customers through limited capital expense and reduced power costs.”

The Canoe Brook solar facility was placed into full commercial operation in January 2023. In addition to providing sustainable, clean energy, the array provides other benefits. The solar power produced is equal to removing 8,121 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere compared to traditional power sources. Floating solar panels can also help reduce evaporation, which protects the water source and benefits the environment.

Since 2009, NJR Clean Energy Ventures has invested over $1 billion in commercial and residential solar projects. As one of the largest solar owner/operators in that state, today it maintains 65 commercial solar assets across four states and a portfolio of more than 440 megawatts of installed capacity.

Canoe Brook is the second floating solar project in CEV’s portfolio. The first, a 4.4 MW array located in Sayreville, New Jersey, was placed into commercial operation in 2020.

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