Singapore’s Tengeh Reservoir floating solar farm starts construction

Singapore has commenced the construction of the 60 megawatt-peak (MWp) floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system on Tengeh Reservoir, as announced today by the national water agency PUB and Sembcorp Floating Solar Singapore, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sembcorp Industries.

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, said PUB and Sembcorp in their joint statement.

Solar energy is Singapore’s most viable renewable energy source, but large-scale deployment of solar panels is known to be challenging due to the country’s 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. This 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, according to the joint statement.

The large-scale floating solar PV system at Tengeh Reservoir – deemed 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 next year, the amount of clean energy generated is expected to be sufficient to power PUB’s local water treatment plants, offsetting 7% of PUB’s annual energy needs.

Sustainable materials and smart technologies

PUB and Sembcorp said the project will incorporate new innovations in floating solar PV design and construction. 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.

Among these innovations 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.

To optimise performance and reliability of operations, the system is backed by a digital monitoring platform that 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 also detects abnormalities that may indicate potential overheating and fire hazard for pre-emptive troubleshooting. Staff will be able to monitor the system remotely via a mobile application, which allows maintenance teams to be swiftly deployed when required.

Ng Joo Hee, chief executive of PUB said, “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.”

Wong Kim Yim, group president & CEO of Sembcorp Industries added, “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.”

Images: PUB/Sembcorp Industries