World’s largest Hydro-Floating Solar Hybrid Project begins operation in Thailand

The world’s largest Hydro-Floating Solar Hybrid Project has begun commercial operation at Sirindhorn Dam on the Lam Dom Noi River in Thailand. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) said the 45-MW Hydro-Floating Solar Hybrid Project will enhance the country’s power system security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions of around 47,000 tons/year, and provide clean energy to help mitigate global warming.

The world’s largest Hydro-Floating Solar Hybrid Project has seven sets of solar panels installed on the water surface of less than 1% of the entire reservoir, approximately the same as 70 soccer fields. The solar panels were placed at an angle with space between the panel and platform so sunlight could pass through into the water without 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 by around 460,000 cubic meters per year. These solar panels and floating platforms are all eco-friendly and do not affect the underwater environment.

The solar farm has seven sets of solar panels installed on the water surface of less than 1% of the entire reservoir.
The solar farm has seven sets of solar panels installed on the water surface of less than 1% of the entire reservoir. Credit: EGAT

Built at the cost of $34 million and consisting of 145,000 panels made of eco-friendly material, the farm is expected to deliver up to 45 megawatts of power to the national grid. Interestingly, the power plant can 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 nighttime. It is controlled and managed by an energy management system (EMS) along with a weather forecast system to increase the stability of the power system. Therefore it can generate electricity longer and lower the limitations of renewable energy. In the future, EGAT plans to build a renewable energy control center that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to increase power generation efficiency.

Following the success of the hybrid energy project, the EGAT has plans to duplicate the pilot project for other 15 power plants nationwide to reach a total capacity of 2,725 MW so that Thailand can achieve the goal of Net Zero Emissions and become a sustainable low-carbon society. The local government has also said it is planning to make the project also a new tourist attraction and open it to visitors from early 2022.

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