Orange County Unveils the Largest Floating Solar Array in Southeast U.S.


Orange County has installed the largest floating solar array in the Southeastern United States.

Floating Solar Array

The array is stationed on a pond at the Utilities Department’s Southern Regional Water Supply Facility (SRWFS). The project is designed to help the County reach its Sustainable Operations & Resilience Action Plan goal of achieving 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2035.

“Sustainability and resilience are not just buzzwords for us; they are guiding principles that inform our decision-making,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. “This project exemplifies our dedication to building a more sustainable and resilient future for generations to come. Orange County continues to lead by example, clearing the way for a cleaner, greener environment.”

The floating solar array at SRWSF covers two acres of a 3.6-acre pond, making it the largest of its kind in the Southeastern United States. It consists of 2,236 solar panels, each roughly the size of a pool table. In total, the panels are expected to produce 1.9 kilowatt-hours annually.

The array was installed on water to minimize impacts on the natural environment. The array is also engineered to withstand adverse weather conditions, including sustained winds up to 50 miles per hour and gusts reaching 130 miles per hour.

The floating solar array is projected to cut energy costs at the facility by 25 percent per year while limiting the impact on land and wildlife.

Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer Carrie Black highlighted the positive environmental impact of the project.

“It will reduce 1,500 tons of CO2 emissions annually and further position Orange County as a leader in climate action.”

The array project was undertaken by Orange County Utilities Director Ed Torres.

“The 2,236 panels that make up this floating solar array represent our unwavering commitment to advancing Orange County’s goal of sourcing clean, renewable energy,” said Torres. “Not only are we reducing our carbon footprint, but we are also ensuring more sustainable water supply operations.”

The Department also operates a ground-mounted solar array at their Northwest Water Reclamation Facility (NWRF). The NWRF array was strategically located on land not committed to future infrastructure expansion. The array serves as Orange County Utilities’ pilot project for ground-mounted solar.

Construction of the two-megawatt solar installation began in 2019 and concluded in early 2024. The array is anticipated to generate up to 60 percent of the facility’s power needs and save more than $400,000 per year.

Orange County Utilities plan to install more solar array projects to offset energy demands and reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the county service area. ●


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