Workers walk between solar cell panels over the water surface of Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand. File picture: Prapan Chankaew/Reuters
Workers walk between solar cell panels over the water surface of Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand. File picture: Prapan Chankaew/Reuters

PICS: Thailand switches on world's largest hydro-solar farm

By Dominic Naidoo Time of article published Nov 17, 2021

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Thai state-owned enterprise, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), has officially switched on a brand new 45-megawatt hydro-floating dolar farm. Sitting upon Sirindhorn Dam, the solar project has been deemed to be the largest floating solar farm in the world.

According to EGAT, “The Sirindhorn Solar Cell Power Plant is the first project in Thailand which has provided carbon credit in compliance with the standard of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

Located in Ubon Ratchathani Province, the clean energy hybrid project commenced commercial operations on 31 October 2021.

The main objectives of Thailand’s investment in renewable energy is to enhance the security and reliability of the country’s power system, reduce greenhouse gas emissions of around 47 000 tons annually and provide clean energy to help mitigate global warming.

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The main feature of the hybrid power plant is its ability to generate electricity from both solar power during the day, and hydropower from the existing dam when there is no sunlight or during peak power demand at night.

Controlled and managed by an Energy Management System, the plant is also equipped with a weather forecasting system which allows for increased stability and the ability to self-regulate. These allow it to generate electricity longer and lower the limitations of renewable energy.

Seven sets of floating solar panels bob about the surface of the dam covering less than 1% of the reservoir. EGAT noted that all components used in the construction of the panels are environmentally friendly and do not affect the underwater biome.

A worker stands between solar cell panels over the water surface of Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand. File picture: Prapan Chankaew/Reuters

Panels are placed at an angle with a space between the panel and platform so sunlight can pass through into the water, thereby not affecting the underwater environment. Placing solar panels on the water surface also helps reduce the panels’ heat, making it 10-15% more efficient than solar panels installed on land, and reduces water evaporation in the dam around 460 000 m3/year, according to EGAT.

Due to the success of the project, EGAT said that it will push forward with the construction of the next 24-megawatt project at Ubol Ratana Dam in Khon Kaen Province, with 15 additional projects nationwide, to reach a total capacity of 2.7 gigawatts. This will bring Thailand closer to the goal of net zero emissions and becoming a sustainable low-carbon society.

Workers walk between solar cell panels over the water surface of Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand. File picture: Prapan Chankaew/Reuters

Thailand is on track to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050, way ahead of the earlier target of 2065 pledged by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ochacearlier this month at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

“The country has set a goal to reduce all greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero by 2065. Natural gas accounted for nearly two-thirds of Thailand’s power generation last year, while wind, solar and hydropower combined for less than 10%,” according to Bloomberg.

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