Plans Cancelled for Massive Floating Solar Farm in California

by | Apr 24, 2018

A floating solar photovoltaic facility outside Nagoya, Japan. Credit: Apple Inc.


A major solar power project slated for six wastewater holding ponds in California’s Sonoma County has been cancelled.

According to, Sonoma Clean Power, the county’s public power supplier, cited several reasons for the cancelling of the project, including President Donald Trump’s recently-announced tariff on imported solar panels. The utility also cited requirements by PG&E and the state Division of Safety of Dams as reasons for terminating a contract approved in 2015 for development of a 12.5-megawatt solar power system on the holding ponds owned by the Sonoma County Water Agency.

The floating solar farm developer, Pristine Sun, missed its latest deadline of March 31 to complete the project, prompting Sonoma Clean Power to cancel the deal five days later, said Deb Emerson, the electricity provider’s director of power services. She added that the costs for Pristine were adding up, making it more difficult for the parties involved to see how the project could come to fruition.

Under the project’s terms, the water agency pays nothing to get the solar farms up and running. Pristine Sun covers all costs for equipment, installation and permitting, and then makes its money selling the energy that’s generated.

Floating Solar Around the World

Other countries have successfully implemented floating solar farms, including the Netherlands. In February of this year, Dutch officials announced a plan to turn an offshore seaweed farm in the North Sea into a large solar power farm that will pipe energy to the Dutch mainland in roughly three years.

The project comes at a critical time for the Netherlands, which is struggling to curb fossil fuel use and meet greenhouse gas emission targets after years of underinvestment in renewable energy sources.

After an initial pilot next year, a consortium comprising energy producers, scientists and researchers plans to ultimately operate 2,500 square meters of floating solar panels by 2021, said Allard van Hoeken, founder of Oceans of Energy, which devised the project.

Getting It Done: Vendors Mentioned Above

Sonoma Clean Power


Pristine Sun


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