Thursday, August 6, 2015

Solar farms to float on dams

Article originally published on The Star Online in August 6th 2015.

SEREMBAN: The Negri Sembilan government will embark on an ambitious project to open “floating solar farms” at dams in a bid to generate green power.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said a pilot project would be carried out at the Sungai Terip dam near here where solar panels would be “floated” on a specially-designed platform covering one fifth of the dam’s surface.
“Gone are the days where dams will only be used to store and supply treated water to consumers.
“We will now optimise their use to produce renewable energy,” he told reporters here.
He said the state government hoped to get consent from the Energy Commission before it could proceed with the project, believed to be the first of its kind in the region.
If approved, the venture – to be jointly carried out by the state and a private company – would be able to generate between 7.5MW and 10MW of power.
“The problem is that Negri Sembilan has used up its quota to generate solar renewable energy. But since some states have not used the quota allotted to them, we hope to be considered for more,” he said.
Although there are eight dams in the state, not all are suitable for “floating farms”.
This is because the dams need to be located close to the national power grid to enable power to be transmitted onto it and supplied to consumers.
Mohamad said at present, Negri Sembilan produced some 32MW of solar renewable energy. The electricity generated can provide power to an estimated 20,000 homes daily.
This renewable energy is obtained from thousands of solar panels put up at four closed landfills in the state.
Mohamad said the state government hoped to be given the green light to proceed with the “floating farm” solar project as the demand for power would increase following the rapid development taking place in the state.
Citing an example, he said several new townships and industrial parks were expected to be opened in the next few years as part of the Malaysian Vision Valley project.
“The project will be carried out over a 30-year period encompassing a 108,000ha area,” he said.
“This will see a massive increase in demand for electricity. So, it is best that we try to generate whatever renewable energy we can so that we will not have to rely solely on one source.”