Construction begins on Singapore’s pioneering floating solar plant

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Singapore’s National Water Agency PUB and Sembcorp Floating Solar Singapore have announced the commencement of the construction of the 60MWp floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system on Tengeh Reservoir.

This marks a significant milestone in building one of the world’s largest inland floating solar PV systems. This system will not only help to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and thus carbon emissions but also build Singapore’s climate resilience for a more sustainable future.

This large-scale floating solar PV system at Tengeh Reservoir – the first of its kind in the region – will enable Singapore to be one of the few countries in the world to integrate green technology with water treatment. When the project begins full commercial operations next year, the amount of clean energy generated will be sufficient to power PUB’s local water treatment plants, offsetting 7% of PUB’s annual energy needs.

The project will also incorporate new innovations in floating solar PV design and construction. Every component of the system was carefully designed and selected based on Singapore’s climate conditions in order to maximize energy generation, minimize environmental and water quality impact, and be durable enough to fulfil a service lifespan of 25 years.

These include double-glass PV modules instead of the single-glass variant commonly used for rooftops installations, to enhance durability in a wet and humid environment. The PV modules are supported by certified food-grade quality high-density polyethylene (HDPE) floats which are UV-resistant to prevent degradation from the intense sunlight exposure.

To optimize performance and reliability of operations, the system is backed by a digital monitoring platform which features safety cameras, ‘live’ video monitoring, dashboards and alerts that help to track environmental factors such as wind speed, solar irradiation and ambient temperature. The system also detects abnormalities that may indicate potential overheating and fire hazard for preemptive troubleshooting.

Staff will be able to monitor the system remotely via a mobile application which allows maintenance teams to be swiftly deployed when required.

Ng Joo Hee, Chief Executive at PUB, said: “With this floating solar power plant, which we believe to be one of the largest in the world, PUB takes a big step towards enduring energy sustainability in water treatment. Solar energy is plentiful, clean and green, and is key to reducing PUB’s and also Singapore’s carbon footprint.”

Wong Kim Yim, Group President & CEO, Sembcorp Industries, said: “As Singapore’s leading renewable energy player, Sembcorp is committed to helping our communities live more sustainably. This large-scale floating solar platform, which features the deployment of advanced technological and system innovations, will also enhance Singapore’s global position in renewable energy production. We are excited and honored to partner PUB on this landmark project to provide green power to our nation.”

Solar energy is Singapore’s most viable renewable energy source, but large-scale deployment of solar panels is challenging due to its dense urban landscape and limited land. Beyond rooftops and vertical spaces, PUB’s large expanse of water bodies and reservoirs can now serve the dual purpose of water catchment and electricity generation.

This follows positive trial outcomes and extensive environmental studies which show that floating solar panels have minimal impact on the reservoir’s water quality and biodiversity.

Visual representations including drawings, illustrations, photographs and art rendering portray artistic impressions only and are not to be taken as representations of the actual layout of the solar PV installation, which is subject to change.

This article was originally posted on Power Engineering International and was republished with permission.
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