June 15, 2024

Floating Solar Project: EGAT Launches Third Phase

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has announced its third floating solar project that will scale up renewable energy power generation.

This project is set up on Srinagarind Dam reservoir, as part of EGAT’s on-going expansion of solar energy capabilities and bringing new renewable energy technologies into the power generation infrastructure of Thailand.

Third Floating Solar Project on Srinagarind Dam

The solar floating project on Srinagarind Dam is set to generate 140 megawatts (MW) of power, which is EGAT’s third floating solar power project. Earlier, another one is located at Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani with 44 MW of power. Another one is also located at Ubol Ratana Dam in Khon Kaen.

The Srinagarind Dam project seeks to blend form and function by coupling the hydropower production with the existing grid to produce a new hybrid power production model, with better guaranteed reliability.

Hydroelectric plants in Thailand usually run at off-peak times, helping to support the use of electricity for agricultural purposes. Floating solar panels will increase the stability and reliability of electricity supplies, helping the innovative hybrid system to optimize energy production while supporting agriculture at national level.

Thailand Initiatives and Long-term Goals

This project is part of a wider government-sanctioned scheme for the installation of 2,725MW of floating solar by 2037 in line with Thailand’s goal to achieve 20 gigawatts of renewable energy generation, according to a revised National Power Development Plan 2024-37.

This objective includes new capacities developed by EGAT and by private contractors, a programme aimed at building a sustainable renewable fleet.

The auction for the Srinagarind Dam can be purchased on 3 July, and the construction works are expected to begin by 2026. It remains to be seen how much EGAT will spend on the development of the new plant but given the gravity of the project, it can assuredly expect fierce interest from engineering, procurement and construction firms.

Renewable Floating Solar Energy Expansion

Floating solar is all set to join the ranks of innovation, as this increasingly popular approach to expanding renewable energy capacity captures investors’ interest.

In contrast to ground-mounted solar panels, which require significant land area to be installed, today’s floating solar installations are erected on the surface of waterbodies such as reservoirs, lakes and even the ocean itself. There are a number of advantages to this approach.

Preserving land is perhaps the most important advantage of floating solar projects since the panels are built over water, leaving land available for agriculture, housing and other vital purposes.

The panels also generate less heat since they float on water and benefit from solar cooling, which means that their overall efficiency can be higher, and they produce more energy.

The World Bank notes that floating systems can increase the yield of a given installation by up to 10 per cent. Covering water bodies with solar panels can significantly reduce water evaporation. And this is especially useful in water-scarce regions, because it helps with water-saving.

Floating solar systems, which use pre-existing water surfaces, also eliminate the environmental cost of clearing land and disrupting ecosystems. In addition to reducing water evaporation, these types of installations can help to displace fossil fuel-based energy generation and cut down on carbon emissions.

Thailand's Renewable Energy Roadmap

Amid a general trend towards renewable energy in southeast Asia, the world’s third-largest hydro plant in Thailand will help transform the country as a leader in renewable energy in the region.

The strategic roadmap for how the country will achieve these goals, laid out in Thailand’s latest government-backed National Power Development Plan (PDP), 2024-2037, provides an in-depth insight into the focus and targets of Thailand’s emerging green energy endeavour.

The kingdom aims to have a net capacity of 20 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy in total by 2037, taking in solar, wind, biomass and hydropower. More specifically, Thailand aims to add another 2,725MW of floating solar on reservoirs by 2037, as one component of a broader set of ambitions to boost solar energy capacity and Japan’s abundant supply of water.

In 2023, Thailand’s total renewable energy capacity was just over 10GW; solar had an approximate share of almost 3GW. EGAT is increasingly leading the way in this process by pushing the envelope on new technologies.

EGAT’s first floating solar project, on a retaining pond for its Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani, produced 44 megawatts of power. It has pointed the direction for further floating solar projects.

Another major initiative is the 24MW floating solar plant at Ubol Ratana Dam in Khon Kaen, which further testified to the technology’s viability.

Their most recent headline-grabbing announcement says they’ll build a 140MW floating solar project on the reservoir of the Srinagarind Dam – part of EGAT’s commitment to renewable energy and slated to go live by 2026. The project will help Thailand move towards its renewable energy targets.

Thailand’s renewable energy roadmap demonstrates the country’s commitment to sustainable development, while floating solar power clearly shows that Thailand can lead and to demonstrated innovative solutions for improving the energy security of the country, while paving the path for other nations to develop green and liveable societies.

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