Engineers in Brazil have commenced work in laying the equivalent of five football fields (50,000 square meters) of floating solar panels on the Balbina Dam as part of a pilot project to be completed by 2017. Balbina Dam was built in 1989 as the result of flooding around 2,400 square kilometres of rainforest and currently produces 50 megawatts of energy out of a maximum 250. Using floating solar panels is being increasingly used but placing them on a dam on such as scale is novel and if the pilot is successful, this method could be utilised worldwide.
Brazil generates 60% of its electricity from hydroelectricity but due to the drought, many dams across Brazil have dropped to low levels. Furthermore, in light of changing rainfall patterns, the addition of solar energy to supplement hydroelectricity will provide greater energy security and will also have the added benefit of reducing evaporation of dam water.
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