Canoe Brook reservoir in Short Hills debuts North America’s largest floating solar array

The largest floating solar array in North America, consisting of 16,510 solar panels and covering 17 acres, was officially debuted to the public on Tuesday at the Canoe Brook reservoir in Short Hills.

The 8.9-megawatt array will generate enough clean power to power 1,400 homes annually and will provide approximately 95% of the power needs for New Jersey American Water’s Canoe Brook Water Treatment Plant.

Owned and operated by NJR Clean Energy Ventures, the renewable energy subsidiary of New Jersey Resources, the array uses an innovative racking system that enables the panels to float on water.

Built mostly on man-made lakes or reservoirs, where tides and saltwater will not impact the panels, floating solar projects turn beneficial use space into clean energy. Innovative approaches to clean energy, like Canoe Brook, are increasingly important in densely populated areas, such as New Jersey.

The Canoe Brook solar facility was placed into full commercial operation in January. In addition to providing sustainable, clean energy, the array provides other benefits. The solar power produced is equal to removing 8,121 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere compared to traditional power sources. Floating solar panels can also help reduce evaporation, which protects the water source and benefits the environment.

“Floating solar technology creates new opportunities for underutilized bodies of water, allowing space that would otherwise sit vacant to enable large-scale renewable energy generation, which helps to bring the benefits of clean energy to even more customers,” Robert Pohlman, vice president of NJR Clean Energy Ventures, said. “As a leader in New Jersey’s solar marketplace, we look forward to working with New Jersey American Water to support its power needs and advance the state’s clean energy and climate goals.”

“As the state’s largest water and wastewater utility company, it is essential for us to be good stewards of the environment by operating efficiently and in a manner that helps protect our natural resources,” Mark McDonough, president of New Jersey American Water, said. “This initiative provides a meaningful reduction of traditional energy use that benefits the environment, as well as our customers through limited capital expense and reduced power costs.”

“Sound and consistent investment in renewable energy is critical to reducing climate pollution and the resulting flooding, wildfire and extreme heat repeatedly harming New Jersey’s communities and economy,” Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn LaTourette said. “The Canoe Brook Floating Solar Facility project is an example of innovative leadership by critical partners in business and industry working hard to ensure the Garden State reduces its climate risk. My Department of Environmental Protection colleagues and I congratulate NJR Clean Energy Ventures and New Jersey American Water for their work on this project.”

“We are proud to see the largest floating solar facility in North America be built in New Jersey, It truly underscores the efforts that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities puts towards a diverse, clean energy future,” Commissioner Mary-Anna Holden of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities said.

Since 2009, CEV has invested over $1 billion in commercial and residential solar projects. As one of the largest solar owner/operators in that state, today, it maintains 65 commercial solar assets across four states and a portfolio of more than 440 MW of installed capacity.

Canoe Brook is the second floating solar project in CEV’s portfolio. The first, a 4.4 MW array located in Sayreville, was placed into commercial operation in 2020.