Construction is about to begin on Australia’s first floating solar power plant. The 3.5 megawatt plant, in Jamestown in mid-north South Australia, is expected to be operational in by early April.

The plant is being built by Infratech Industries which has tested floating solar power plants in countries such as France and South Korea. The South Australian plant will be a new and improved commercial model. Once operational, it will become Infratech’s showpiece for export around the world.

The plant was designed so that much of the construction could be carried out offsite and slotted together at the facility.

Because floating solar panels are cooled by the water, they are about 57% more efficient than land-based panels. They also prevent water evaporation by up to 90% per cent on the surface area covered and prevent the outbreak of blue-green algae by keeping the surface water cool.

The plant is expected to produce more than enough power for the water treatment plant, which is a heavy user of power for the actual water treatments and pumping, with the excess being provided to the township.