March 5, 2019 Read More →

Thailand plans 2.7GW of floating solar capacity

Bloomberg:

Thailand plans to build the world’s largest floating solar farms to power Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy and to boost the country’s share of clean energy.

State-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) will float 16 solar farms with a combined capacity of more than 2.7 gigawatts in nine of its hydroelectric dam reservoirs by 2037, said Thepparat Theppitak, a deputy governor with the utility. Several of the proposed projects are more than double the size of the world’s largest floating system now and the venture dwarfs the 1.3 gigawatts of generation installed globally as of October.

The plan represents an ambitious bet for Thailand on floating solar, which tends to be more expensive than the ground-mounted units that dominate the sector. If EGAT builds all its proposed projects, the company says floating solar will account for one-tenth of the country’s clean energy sources, compared to just 1% of global solar capacity by 2050, according to BloombergNEF.

“As the cost of solar equipment comes down, many developers are looking at water with grid connection,” said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis for BloombergNEF in London. “This seems to be a great combination of long-term and well-structured planning, with individual projects identified already.”

Locating the plants at existing hydropower reservoirs means the utility will not need to spend as much on infrastructure tying it into the grid and the system will improve the overall output of the hydropower plants, according to Mr. Thepparat. In the future, the company will also use lithium-ion batteries to store electricity produced by the floating plants.

Eight of EGAT’s 16 planned floating plants would be larger than what is now the world’s biggest, a 150-megawatt system floating above a collapsed coal mine in China. Thailand’s biggest will be the 325-MW farm at Sirikit Dam in northern Thailand, scheduled to be completed in 2035.

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