Duke Energy building experimental solar farm at Polk County site — and it's all on water

Duke Energy may be riding the wave of the future.

It is launching an experiment at its Hines Energy Complex just south of Bartow, a solar energy farm. Traditionally, solar farms have been built on land. Theirs is being built on water.

"Other countries are doing it extensively, so we’re trying it out here to see if we can do it on a larger scale in operational use in the future," said project manager, Shayna White.

Dozens of solar panels are attached to a floating dock. The panels absorb rays from the sun on the top and bottom.

The water from the pond, a former phosphate pit, was only being used to cool the power plant. Now it will also be used to cool the solar panels which could make them more efficient.

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At present the solar panels cover about two acres. But the pond is 1,200 acres, so there is plenty of room for possible expansion.

At its current size, the solar farm will produce enough electricity to provide power to 100 homes.

The project is expected to be fully functional and produce power by late summer.