by Tina Olivero

    Indonesia’s solar goes to water with opening of region’s biggest floating PV facility

    10 November 2023

    Indonesia has powered up one of the largest floating solar plants in the world – and the largest, for now, in Southeast Asia – with the inauguration this week of the 145MW (AC) Cirata power plant on a reservoir in West Java and the announcement of plans to add a further 500MW.

    The floating solar project was developed through a collaboration between United Arab Emirates renewables giant Masdar – its first ever floating solar project, and first project in southeast Asia – and Indonesia’s PLN Nusantara Power (PLN NP), a state-owned electricity company.

    “Today is a historical day because our big dream to build a renewable energy plant on a big scale is finally achieved,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in a speech to mark the plant’s commissioning.

    “We managed to build the largest floating solar farm in Southeast Asia, and the third biggest in the world,” he said.

    “We hope there will be more renewable energy built in our country such as solar, hydropower, geothermal, and wind,” Widodo said.

    Cirata is the third-largest operational floating solar plant in the world, following closely behind the 150MW Three Gorges New Energy project in China, and the 320MW Dezhou Dingzhuang project, also in China.

    But it looks likely to move up that list in the not-too distant future, with Masdar and PLN NP announcing they have agreed to add 500MW of additional capacity at the Cirata reservoir in a second phase of the floating solar project.

    Masdar said on Thursday that the two companies had signed an MOU to develop Phase II following a regulatory development that increased the portion of water that could be covered for renewable energy uses.

    “In October 2023, Masdar and PLN Group agreed to triple the existing capacity of this already record-breaking project, supporting Indonesia’s decarbonization and net-zero ambitions,” said Masdar CEO Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi in a statement.

    While Indonesia’s energy minister, Arifin Tasrif, said the recent rule change meant the project had a maximum total potential of around 1.2GW peak if it chose to take up the full 20% of the area of the reservoir that is now allowed.

    “With the operation of the Cirata Floating PV, we hope it will increase investor confidence and encourage technological innovation as a solution to limited land in developing solar energy, where Indonesia has enormous floating PV potential,” Tasrif said.

    For now, Cirata will have to settle for the title of the biggest in the region, having surpassed the 60MW array installed on the Tengeh Reservoir in Singapore.

    Eclipsing them all, however, would be the giant 2,200MW floating solar farm proposed for a reservoir on Indonesia’s Batam Island by Singapore-based clean energy developer Sunseap – although there’s not much news on that project since it was first flagged two years ago.

    “The country’s solar power development has been almost non-existent since 2020. However, the decreasing investment cost of solar PV has made it the cheapest renewable energy source,” the IESP said in a statement this week welcoming the inauguration of Cirata.

    “Therefore, Indonesia must optimize the technical potential of [solar], which reaches 3.7TW to 20TW, to support its goal of achieving the electricity sector’s peak emission target by 2030 at the lowest possible cost.

    “Utilising the potential of this floating solar power plant will accelerate the achievement of the renewable energy mix target and achieve the net zero emission (NZE) target sooner than 2060,” the IESR says.

    According to Indonesia’s Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), Indonesia’s technical potential for floating PV amounts to 28.4GW across 783 water body locations, including potential for large-scale floating solar at least 27 locations with existing hydropower plants.

    Source and Image: Masdar

    Tina Olivero

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