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PUB and Sembcorp start construction of 60MWp floating solar PV system

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The National Water Agency PUB and Sembcorp Floating Solar Singapore, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sembcorp Industries (Sembcorp), have started construction of the 60-megawatt-peak (MWp) photovoltaic (PV) floating system on Tengeh Reservoir.

It marks a major milestone in developing one of the largest inland floating solar photovoltaic systems in the world, which not only helps minimize reliance on fossil fuels and thus carbon emissions, but also creates national climate resilience for a more sustainable future.

Solar energy is the most viable source of renewable energy in Singapore, but large-scale installation of solar panels is difficult due to their dense urban environment and limited land.

PUB’s wide expanse of water bodies and reservoirs will now serve the dual purpose of water catchment and electricity generation outside rooftops and vertical spaces.

It follows promising test results and detailed environmental studies that indicate floating solar panels have limited effects on the water quality and biodiversity of the reservoir.

This large-scale floating solar photovoltaic system at Tengeh Reservoir –the region’s first of its kind–will enable Singapore to integrate green technology with water treatment as one of the few countries worldwide.

When the project starts full commercial operations next year, the amount of clean energy generated will be enough to power local water treatment plants at PUB, offsetting 7 percent of the annual energy needs of PUB.

The project will also incorporate new innovations in floating solar PV design and construction.

That part of the system has been carefully designed and chosen based on the climate conditions in Singapore to optimize energy production, reduce the effect on the environment and water quality, and be long-lasting enough to serve a 25-year service life.

Instead of the single-glass variant commonly used for rooftop installations, these include double-glass PV modules to increase durability in a wet and humid environment.

The PV modules are provided by certified high-density polyethylene (HDPE) floats of food grade that are UV-resistant to avoid degradation from the direct exposure to sunlight.

To improve operational performance and reliability, a digital monitoring platform offers surveillance cameras, live video monitoring, dashboards and warnings to help track environmental factors such as wind speed, solar irradiation and ambient temperature.

The device also senses anomalies that can suggest the potential for preventive troubleshooting overheating and fire hazards.

Staff will be able to track the device remotely via a mobile application that allows for the swift deployment of maintenance teams when necessary (see infographic in Annex A).

“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.”

Ng Joo Hee, chief executive PUB.

“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 honoured to partner PUB on this landmark project to provide green power to our nation.”

Wong Kim Yim, group president & CEO, Sembcorp Industries.

Nedim Husomanovic

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