Egat eyes solar output hike

Egat eyes solar output hike

Firm targets 5GW via nine floating farms

Egat's floating solar farm, with a capacity of 45 megawatts, is on a reservoir at Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani province.
Egat's floating solar farm, with a capacity of 45 megawatts, is on a reservoir at Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani province.

State-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) plans to increase power generation capacity of its floating solar farms to 5 gigawatts to enhance electricity generation at its hydroelectric power plants nationwide, according to Egat governor Boonyanit Wongrukmit.

He said new capacity will be added to the 2.725GW for its nine existing floating solar farm projects.

The first unit, with capacity of 45 megawatts, is being built at Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani. It is expected to start operation in September this year.

This project is the world's largest hybrid power generation project, including a 36MW hydroelectric power plant, according to Egat. The second unit is planned for next year.

All nine units were originally scheduled to be completed by the end of 2037, but Egat wants to reduce the time frame to 5-10 years.

Mr Boonyanit said Egat is in talks with energy authorities to approve the capacity expansion plan and to put it in the revised 2022 national power development plan, which sets development policy for the next two decades.

Dams usually generate power during evening and night hours, while floating solar panels can generate power during daytime, he said.

A floating solar farm requires only 1% of the Sirindhorn Dam area, leaving plenty of room for further development, said Mr Boonyanit.

"I would like to expand the capacity to 10GW, or as much as we receive approval for from the authorities," he said.

Egat operates 24 hydroelectric power plants countrywide: 14 large dams and 10 small dams located downstream.

The Sirindhon floating solar farm is being developed by SET-listed B.Grimm Power Plc, which serves as an engineering, procurement and construction firm.

B.Grimm won the construction contract in 2018 after bidding 842 million baht, lower than the median price of 2.26 billion baht.

The operation date of this floating solar farm was delayed from December last year due to lockdown measures that restricted travel to curb Covid-19 transmissions.

Egat also plans to install an energy storage system and energy management system at this floating solar farm.

The floating solar power cost is estimated at 1.5 baht per kilowatt-hour (unit) over the next 25 years.

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