Updated: Jul 18, 2021
I still recall the earlier days when the idea of generating power from solar panels floating on top of the water was considered a never achieving dream of researchers. I was wondering about their construction aspects as I was clear on the power generation aspects with the solar panels. I still remember the discussion that I had with some of my friends about this absurd idea. Back then, I was thinking about the currents in water bodies as well as the waves in the ocean. Today I stand corrected as there are numerous solar power generation taking place from floating solar power plants. The first floating solar power plant in the world was built in 2007 in Aichi, Japan, and since then several countries have started implementing this technology. Today we have the largest floating solar power plant just put into operation last Wednesday (14/07/2021) with a huge capacity of generating 60 megawatts of power, and it can be further increased with the addition of new solar panels.
The Sembcorp Tengeh Floating Solar Farm located in the Tengeh Reservoir is today's largest floating solar power plant. It is stretched over 45 hectares, which will be equivalent to 45 football fields aligned together, and has over 45,000 solar panels connected for generating a huge amount of power. The power generation facility is located in a region with a population of 6 million people. Moreover, the flow of water is regulated and controlled in the reservoir where the solar farm is placed, making the panels stand intact.
Although a small country by size, Singapore in the Asian continent per-capita Carbon dioxide emitter index tops the charts. It has understood the issue, and authorities are moving forward with various initiatives of generating power through renewable sources as well as reducing pollutant emissions. Among the tons of initiatives, the largest floating solar power plant tops them all. The plant will generate more energy than the energy requirements for powering the 5 water treatment plants operating in the reservoir.
Design and operation
The monitoring of such a large number of panels and checkings cannot be done manually, therefore the facility uses drones operated by the technicians to monitor the panels and power generation units. Built to last 25 years, the panel's life can be even extended with smart maintenance tools and well-crafted operational methodologies. Long before the implementation, when the project was proposed, an extensive study on the impact of the initiative on the flora and fauna was conducted. This study helped ensure that the floating farm will not have an impact on aquatic life.
The specific design of the installation of panels will allow sunlight to pass through the reservoir, helping the aquatic life to cherish in a normal way. Another important aspect that favored this project is that the solar panels floating on water bodies have 5 to 15 percent more efficiency than the efficiency of the rooftop and the conventional ones. The cooling effect of water, as well as the reception of direct sunlight, are advantages of the floating solar power plant.
So, what are the impacts of this initiative on the people as well as the environment?
As mentioned earlier, it is powering 5 huge water treatment plants in operation, making Singapore one among the few countries where the major water treatment plants are powered by renewable energy. Furthermore, the solar farm will be responsible for the reduction of 32-kilo tons of carbon emissions. This reduction will be equivalent to taking more than 7000 cars running on fossil fuels off the road.
As Singapore is driving towards a renewable energy-driven country, four more floating solar panels are under construction which will be completed soon, adding up to the clean power generation and contributing towards Singapore's green initiative. India's biggest floating solar power plant is set to be operational with a 100 megawatt capacity in Telangana. It is to be set up in the Reservoir of the thermal power plant at Ramalingam of Peddapalli district in Telangana. This solar power plant by the National Thermal Power Corporation - NTPC will be operational this year. It's high time that authorities all over the world start to implement power generation mediums that are innovative as well as essential to solve the climate change crisis of today’s world.