The World's Largest Floating Solar Power Farm in Singapore
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a sustainable energy breakthrough was launched in Singapore when it officially opened one of the world’s largest floating solar power plants. This impressive floating solar facility also makes Singapore one of the few countries in the world to produce 100% clean energy with its green waterworks system.
Singapore’s SEMBCORP Floating Solar Farm
On July 14, 2021, Singapore made a beautiful history when it officially opened the world’s largest floating solar farm.
The project (which started in August 2020) was initially planned to be 10 years in the making but it was shortly completed in less than a year. It is operated by Sembcorp Floating Solar Singapore, a subsidiary of the energy and urban development company Sembcorp Industries.
The massive floating solar farm at Tengeh Reservoir spans the size of 45 soccer fields. It was built using 122,000 solar panels that are spread across 10 solar-panel islands. Its solar modules are made of double-glass material and have a service life of up to 25 years. It can generate a total of 60 megawatts which is enough to supply Singapore’s 5 water treatment plants or power about 16,000 four-room flats.
Floating Solar Farm as a Creative Green Energy Solution
As the country lacks large-scale areas of land to develop solar farms, it alternatively tapped on large areas of reservoirs to scale up its solar power capacity. With this, they were able to materialize creative clean energy while maintaining their reservoir to function just the same. Singapore’s little land space was effectively extended through the floating solar power plant.
Moreover, the floating solar system proved to be up to 15% better than the usual rooftop solar panels due to the reservoirs’ cooler environment. This setting also allows full sun exposure with no shading from trees or nearby buildings. Nonetheless, solar power plants do not guarantee a continuous power supply due to the occurrence of rainy and cloudy days. Thus, commercially usable storage remains essential. Sembcorp Industries announced that it is intensively looking for viable solutions and that it hopes to present them in the next one or two years.
Interestingly, the floating solar facility was built with ecological viability in mind. Environmental consultations and environmental impact studies were carried out prior to the construction.
It was designed to produce minimal impacts on the overall water quality, plants and wildlife. In fact, two-thirds of the reservoir is untouched to allow wildlife to live normally and hunt for food. The design also incorporated additional aerators to balance oxygen levels in the reservoir. Ample gaps between solar panels were also maintained to allow proper airflow of sufficient sunlight to pass through the system. Comprehensive environmental management and mitigation plans are also in place to ensure that all aspects are working in perfect harmony with the environment.
Ultimately, solar radiation and ambient temperature are measured using drones. This technology ensures that imminent overheating can be recognized and prevented in good time.
Increasing the Efficiency of Floating Solar PV with PADCON Float Controller
While solar panels have an average lifespan of 25 years, it is also susceptible to Potential Induced Degradation or PID effect. This PID results in reduced polarization and current leakage that reduces the overall productivity of solar panels over time.
Without PID protection, the degradation value is usually well over 0.25% per year, with the losses adding up year after year. After ten years, a degradation of 2.5% can be assumed.
The high susceptibility to PID effect on floating solar panels has several causes:
- The humidity on the water is very high and the air is particularly humid which contributes to the development of a PID effect
- Normally the ground protects against the PID effect, but the risk to people on the water is too high, which is why grounding is completely dispensed with
- Generally, the higher the voltage, the higher the risk of PID. New plants, like the one in Singapore, work with a very high voltage of about 1500 V.
Thankfully, there is a way to increase the efficiency of floating solar panels. PADCON introduces a modern technology that can solve PID problems with their PID Float Controller - it is a tried and tested PID solution that can significantly increase the PV efficiency of floating solar panels.
By preventing the PID effect and the resulting increase in the output of a solar power plant, investors have an amortization period of between half a year and around two years.
The Singapore Green Plan 2030
Singapore strongly envisions itself to be a low-carbon country and it is driven to further intensify its efforts towards sustainability.
The expansion of solar energy production is an important pillar of the Singapore Green Plan 2030. With this facility, Singapore can slash about 32 kilotonnes of carbon emissions each year. Singapore targets to quadruple its solar energy output by 2025 despite the fact that Singapore has relatively little space available. Four solar PV projects are scheduled for completion this year, including the Lower Seletar Reservoir and Bedok Reservoir.
More projects are targeted to materialize as part of Singapore Green Plan 2030 such as:
- Singapore aims to become a “zero waste” society and is pushing for 100% recycling of wastes;
- The expansion of parks and green spaces and the planting of a million trees so that all households in Singapore must live near a green park;
- Minimize car traffic in inner cities and the promotion of public transport and cycling. Today, Singapore records that more than 60% of all journeys are serviced by public transport. By 2030, it is targeted to be at 75%;
- Creating awareness for sustainability in the population through appropriate education.
- The promotion of regional food production.
- The promotion of biodiversity and harmonious coexistence of humans and wild animals;
Singapore is truly an impressive leader in terms of sustainability. It is continually transforming its city-state faster than most other countries and states. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore today is one of the solar-dense cities in the world and it shall continue to surprise the world with its sustainable and futuristic milestones.