The Floating Solar Explorer

Visualizing the energy-generation opportunities and potential economic impact of adopting floating solar on human-made water reservoirs
Floating Solar Explorer Screen Shot
The Rensselaer IDEA-developed Floating Solar Explorer visualizes the energy-generation opportunities and potential economic impact of adopting floating solar on human-made water reservoirs.

The City of Cohoes, N.Y. announced on May 3, 2022 that National Grid committing $750,000 in economic development funding to advance their model Municipal Floating Solar Demonstration project. The National Grid grant builds on the foundational $3 million federal investment in this first-of-its-kind in the country floating solar project, secured by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Congressman Paul Tonko in March.

The Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications (The Rensselaer IDEA) is pleased to have played a role in this effort by collaborating with Cohoes in the development of the Floating Solar Explorer app. The Floating Solar Explorer visualizes the energy-generation opportunities and potential economic impact of adopting floating solar on human-made water reservoirs. FSE’s U.S. map charts the 24,419 NREL-identified water reservoirs potentially 'suitable' for floating solar, by ownership and potential electricity generation (per MWh). FSE's New York State map charts the NREL-identified water reservoirs potentially "suitable" for floating solar in the state, by ownership and potential electricity generation (per MWh).

A municipally owned and operated floating solar installation not only generates clean energy, it has the capacity to generate economic opportunity for the community as a result of electric bill savings. The City of Cohoes, a Low/Moderate Income (LMI) community with an Environmental Justice (EJ) designation, anticipates saving approximately $500,000 per year in electricity costs; money that can be reinvested back into the working class community. The Floating Solar Explorer incorporates economic data, to better illustrate where the state and national potential is for municipal floating solar installations in LMI communities like Cohoes.
During 2022 the reach of FSE will be expanded to the entire United States. 

The Rensselaer IDEA's Dr. John Erickson (left) and Dr. Jim Hendler (third from left) with Congressman Paul Tonko, Mayor Bill Keeler and National Grid's Laurie Poltynski (May 3, 2022)
The Rensselaer IDEA's Dr. John Erickson (left) and Dr. Jim Hendler (third from left) with Congressman Paul Tonko, Mayor Bill Keeler and National Grid's Laurie Poltynski (May 3, 2022)

“The Cohoes Floating Solar project provides an unprecedented opportunity to localize power generation and drive down costs, all while shoring up our nation’s clean energy goals,” Tonko said. “I was proud to secure federal funding for this initiative through our FY2022 Community Project Funding process, and I’m thrilled to see these critical resources now being delivered. National Grid's announcement today builds powerfully on that investment, and I commend them for their strong support of this project that will serve as a model for communities across the nation.”

Floating Solar Explorer Data Sources

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