Floating solar power plants making waves across Asia-Pacific

A new report suggests countries in Asia leads European nations in deploying floating solar farms

Floating solar power plants are expected to generate around 900% more electricity across the Asia-Pacific region.

That’s according to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), which suggests countries in Asia leads European nations in deploying floating solar farms.

It adds floating solar installations have shown they can withstand typhoons, powerful waves and winds gusting up to 170 kilometres an hour, with such projects now being tested by manufacturers.

While the first floating solar plant was installed in Japan in 2007, China is currently the largest player on the market.

The two countries had a combined installed capacity of 1.3GW at the end of 2018 while Vietnam has installed around 47MW of capacity.

The IEEFA adds India’s largest power generation firm, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), confirmed it has 200MW of floating solar projects under development across four sites, making it one of the world’s largest developers.

Some of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that have signed contracts for future projects include Vietnam (330MW), Malaysia (150MW), Indonesia (145MW), Philippines (100MW), Thailand (80MW) and Singapore (54MW).

The report suggests Southeast Asia stands to benefit from competitively priced electricity generation through technology-specific auctions of power.

IEEFA Energy Finance Analyst Sara Jane Ahmed said: “Our research shows more and more ASEAN countries are building solar farms that float on rivers, dams, lakes and reservoirs – even the sea – to produce clean electricity at prices that can compete with power from polluting coal-fired plants.”

The report adds solar farms are best when installed near hydropower facilities and able to piggyback existing connections to electricity grids.

Elrika Hamdi, IEEFA Energy Finance Analyst said: “The combination of floating solar and hydro on existing dams and reservoirs trumps the economics of adding new baseload coal-fired power plants on grid systems such as the Java-Bali network that already have generation overcapacity.

“Further, water-borne solar installations are much quicker to build than fossil-fuelled power stations and can be ready in a matter of months, while coal, gas, hydro generators take up to three years to build and nuclear plants take much longer.”

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