Singapore’s National Water Agency, PUB, and Sembcorp Floating Solar Singapore, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sembcorp Industries, have revealed that construction on the 60 megawatt-peak (MWp) floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system on Tengeh Reservoir has officially commenced.
This marks a significant milestone in building one of the world’s largest inland floating solar PV systems, which not only helps to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and thus carbon emissions but also builds national climate resilience for a more sustainable future.
Solar energy is Singapore’s most viable renewable energy source, but the large-scale deployment of solar panels is currently 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.
The commencement of construction 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.
The large-scale floating solar PV system – 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 (expected to occur next year), the amount of clean energy generated will be sufficient to power PUB’s local water treatment plants, offsetting 7 per cent of PUB’s annual energy needs.
The project will incorporate new innovations in floating solar PV design and construction. According to PUB, every component of the system was carefully designed and selected based on Singapore’s climate conditions in order to maximise energy generation, minimise 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.
Moreover, to optimise 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 is capable of detecting abnormalities that may indicate potential overheating and fire hazard for pre-emptive troubleshooting.
Staff will also be able to monitor the system remotely via a mobile application which allows maintenance teams to be swiftly deployed when required (See. Figure 1).
“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,” said Ng Joo Hee, Chief Executive of PUB.
“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 and CEO, Sembcorp Industries, added that the large-scale floating solar platform will 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.”