Floating Solar Solutions – Innovation for Businesses, Energy, and the Environment

Date: 23 Aug 2020

According to the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency, the Ministry of Energy, Thailand consumed 22,355 kTOE of final energy between January and March, 2020. Crude oil remained the most used energy source domestically, making up 45.5% of all consumed final energy, while the use of alternative energy rose by 13.6% compared to the previous year.

Thailand’s upward trend of alternative energy consumption corresponds with the estimate of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which indicated in its Renewables Market Report that the market for renewable energy, which includes solar power, wind, biomass, water, and hydrogen, would see a rapid and continuous 50% expansion by 2024.

Seeing an opportunity to leverage its knowledge and expertise to answer consumer needs and promote energy and environmental sustainability, SCG has invented and developed Thailand’s first-ever Floating Solar Solutions.

Think for Business and Environmental Sustainability
The most common and familiar ways solar cells are deployed are in the form of solar farms as part of a large power plant and rooftop solar systems installed on top of houses, buildings, and factories. However, these two solar systems require a large amount of space, which can lead to an encroachment that might affect forests and farming areas.

Developed for installation and operation on water surfaces, SCG’s Floating Solar Solutions efficiently promote the use of alternative energy as Thailand has about 14,600 square kilometers (about 9 million rai) of water surfaces, which makes up 3% of the country’s total area. In addition, studies have shown that floating solar farms operate more efficiently than ground-mounted and rooftop-mounted counterparts thanks to the cooling effect of water. The Chemicals Business, SCG, was the first company to develop such technology in Thailand, and the first floating solar farm was installed in SCG’s water reservoir in 2018.

Why Floating Solar Solutions?
The Floating Solar Solutions
are one of SCG’s flagship innovations developed by the Chemicals Business — a leading manufacturer of chemical products in Thailand and Asia and one of SCG’s three major business units. It is also the developer of the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) used in a key component in the floating solar farm, which requires a strong, UV-resistant material to withstand the sunlight throughout the day. The plastic resin has a lifetime of over 25 years and is a recyclable, food-grade material, ensuring its safety to marine ecosystems.

In addition to the application of the Company’s expertise on materials, another key feature of the Floating Solar Solutions is the unique design, especially of the two integral components, namely the solar stand and the pathway.

The developer team has designed the solar stand to be compatible with different kinds of solar panels and capable of supporting the weight of larger solar panels to be invented in the future. It can also be set at different angles to suit the landscape and maximize exposure to sunlight and power generation efficiency. The pathway, on the other hand, has been designed with the safety of the engineer or user who has to walk on it during an inspection or to clean solar panels in mind. It thus has been developed to have over 60% buoyancy, which is greater than regular pontoons on the market. This not only allows it to support as much as 200 kilograms per square meter but also enables operators to maintain stability while walking or standing on it. The superior buoyancy also prevents the pontoon from sinking or becoming unstable, which can put engineers or users on it in danger.

Furthermore, the Floating Solar Solutions require only a small number of components and can be installed easily as they do not require any heavy equipment, thereby decreasing both installation time and costs. This is not to mention that they require as much as 10% less space to install compared to other floating solar farms. In addition, this innovation is offered in the form of a comprehensive solution that covers everything from consultation and feasibility studies, producing solar farm designs that suit existing water sources and engineering designs, procurement and installation, to high-quality anchorage for safety as well as management during operation and maintenance.

Expanding towards Sustainable Agriculture
Most recently, the developer team of SCG’s Floating Solar Solutions has further developed the innovation for agricultural applications by designing a new pontoon that is compatible with water pumps, so that the clean energy generated by the solar panels can be used to pump water into farming areas. This new capability will allow the improved floating solar farm to be deployed in water reservoirs for farming, chronically flooded areas, as well as farming areas with no stable access to electricity. The Floating Solar Solutions for Agriculture have recently been piloted in a pond at SCG’s headquarters at Bang Sue.

Invented and developed by SCG, the Floating Solar Solutions not only promote sustainable use of renewable energy but have also elevated Thailand’s renewable energy innovations. For more information, please visit https://bit.ly/34hOBnR, contact solarenergy@scg.com, or call 02 586 3788 or 081 824 7096.