14 May 2020

Massive Floating Solar Plant Secures 25-year PPA in Singapore

14 May 2020  by Sophie Vorrath   

A 60MW floating solar plant that will take Singapore’s national water utility to 100 per cent renewables is set to be built off the back of a 25-year power purchase agreement signed this week.

Singapore-based engineering group Sembcorp said on Monday that a deal had been struck between its fully-owned subsidiary Sembcorp Floating Solar Singapore and Singapore’s National Water Agency PUB, underpinning the construction of the massive floating PV array.

The 25-year PPA follows PUB’s announcement in February of this year that it had appointed Sembcorp to design, build, own and operate the project, which is billed as one of the world’s largest, inland floating solar PV systems.

Under the agreement, Sembcorp Floating Solar Singapore will install more than 146,000 solar panels on the Tengeh Reservoir Reservoir in Tuas, the site of testing for floating solar technology by the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore since 2017.

Sembcorp said the solar power generated by the floating PV would meet the day-to-day operational energy needs of PUB’s five local waterworks, including Marina Barrage, making Singapore one of few countries in the world to achieve 100% green waterworks.

“With this floating solar power plant, which we believe to be one of the largest single systems in the world, PUB takes a big step towards enduring energy sustainability in water treatment,” said PUB CEO Ng Joo Hee in a joint statement with Sembcorp.

“Solar energy is plentiful, clean and green, and is key to reducing PUB’s and also Singapore’s carbon footprint.”

Sembcorp Industries, whose offshore oil industry-focused SembMarine business has been hit hard by the double blow of Covid-19 restrictions and the global collapse in oil prices, welcomes the opportunity to channel its engineering expertise into offshore renewables.

“As we continue to reshape our portfolio towards renewables, we are excited to apply our proven capabilities and innovations in this field on this landmark project,” said the company’s group president and CEO, Neil McGregor.

“When complete, the Tengeh floating solar installation will not only represent a world-class engineering feat but also help to support Singapore’s solar target of 2GWp by 2030.”

Floating solar, while slow to take off, is seen as a big potential market, both for countries like Singapore with limited space for large-scale onshore renewable energy projects and as a complement to water storage and treatment infrastructure, to power them sustainably and help prevent water loss by evaporation.

There are, however, numerous barriers to development, including higher costs – and degrees of difficulty – around installation, higher costs of maintenance, and faster deterioration of equipment.

Sembcorp says it will use highly efficient PV modules for the Tengeh project, to maximise solar energy yield. The panels would also be installed on corrosion-resistant floats, certified to be of food-grade quality.

The company also noted that prior to deployment, extensive studies had been conducted to ensure that the PV modules posed minimal impact to the environment and water quality.

Norwegian consultancy DNV GL has been appointed technical advisor for the project.

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