DeKalb County Moves Forward With Floating Solar Panels

Floating solar panels, like the ones pictured here at Far Niente winery in Oakville, California, may soon be coming to Dekalb County.

Eric Risberg / Associated Press

Floating solar panels could be headed to DeKalb County soon, and they do, in fact, float. They are designed to take advantage of the open space on top of a body of water. DeKalb is hoping to add some to a reservoir at the Scott Candler Water Treatment Plant in Doraville.

A private company will pay DeKalb for the leasing rights to install, maintain and remove the panels, and sell the electricity to Georgia Power. The project is part of Georgia Power’s Renewable Energy Development Initiative.

Richard Lemke, director of DeKalb Public Works Department, said there are other benefits as well.

“The placement of these solar cells on the surface of the ponds will inhibit some of the evaporation which saves a whole bunch of money, and then it also would cut down on the sun penetration which would tend to grow algae,” he said.

Though the county will not own the electricity produced, it will recoup over $600,000 during the 30-year-lease, according to Billy Malone, environmental manager at the Public Works Department.

There are only a few floating solar projects installed in the whole country, and none are operating in Georgia. The technology is already popular in Europe and Asia.

The DeKalb County Commissioners approved the concept Tuesday.

“It still has to go through a negotiation process to get completely finalized, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction, and it looks like it’s going to be a win-win situation for everyone,” Lemke said.