Date: 26 Jun 2018
Over 30% of Thailand’s area is water bodies and wetlands. In addition to being sources of life, rivers, lakes, ponds, and canals also offer new possibilities when it comes to generating clean power from solar energy, thanks to advances brought about by inventors and scientists.
Over half a century ago, scientists learned to harness and convert sunlight into electricity. Ever since, photovoltaic cells have improved in efficiency by leaps and bounds and have been widely used in the generation of solar power – clean energy that is not only accessible to all, unlimited in availability, and eco-friendly but also causes no pollution in the production process.
As Thailand is in the tropics and is exposed to some of the world’s most intense cosmic rays, it enjoys enormous potential when it comes to harnessing intense solar energy.
Although what comes to mind for most of us upon hearing the word “solar energy” is probably the image of a solar rooftop or a solar farm with arrays of ground-mounted solar panels, solar farms can also be constructed on water. However, they were never a popular alternative in Thailand as there were no manufacturers. That was until now.
With its expertise in materials science, especially polymers, coupled with its experience and expertise in industrial design, SCG Chemicals has become Thailand’s first company to successfully design and manufacture a floating solar farm. The company has also planned to further develop the product and introduce a comprehensive service provided by teams of experts who are equipped to cater to all the needs of those interested in acquiring a plastic floating solar farm system, from site assessment to installation and maintenance.
These plastic floating solar cells will allow medium- to large-size industrial plants to maximize the utilization of their underused areas.
Inspired by jigsaw puzzles, these plastic floating solar farms have been designed to have fewer joints for quick and easy installation. In addition, they can accommodate all solar panel sizes and can save space by over 10% compared to other floating devices.
Furthermore, to ensure that they meet safety standards, advanced computer simulations have been run on these plastic floating solar farms to test their compressive strength, tensile strength, and buoyancy, establishing new standards for this type of innovation.
These floating solar farms also stand out for the material they are made of. SCG Chemicals’ special high-density polyethylene (HDPE) resin contains UV stabilizers that give the devices resistance to sunlight and UV rays, which makes them durable and resistant to cracking when exposed to the sun. This innovation has also proven to be eco-friendly and does not release contaminants.
One of the advantages of floating solar farms lies in the enhanced efficiency. The cooling effect of water underneath can boost the power generation efficiency of solar panels by 5-20% compared to regular solar farms or solar rooftops. In addition, as they cover a water surface, the plastic buoys can also reduce the evaporation rate of the water in the reservoir as well.
This type of farm is also an ideal alternative for industrial entrepreneurs who are looking to save costs in the long term as SCG Chemical’s plastic floating solar farm system can last for over 25 years.
The first floating solar solution is another eco-innovation that SCG Chemicals has developed to contribute to environmental conservation efforts and serve as a new solution for those wishing to maximize the use of their underutilized space. More importantly, this innovative product promises to open up new opportunities for the production of clean energy from solar power in Thailand.
SCG’s 1MW floating solar farm in the reservoir of SCG Chemicals is expected to have a maximum capacity of 978.75 kW, capable of producing as many as 1.43 million units of electricity per year. The project can also reduce energy consumption by as much as 5,155 GJ per year – an equivalent of 129,610 liters of fuel oils per year (net calorific value of 39.77 MJ/liter) – and decrease CO2 emissions by 810 tons (when the emission factor is 0.5661 tons of CO2 emissions per unit of electricity), which is equivalent to growing 81,000 trees (when each big tree is capable of reducing 10 kilograms of CO2 emissions per year on average).
Advantages of the SCG Chemicals’ Floating Solar Farm
1) They have a long lifespan and are suitable for outdoor use, thanks to the special plastic resin that incorporates UV stabilizers.
2) They are easy to install as they contain fewer joints and the installation requires no heavy equipment.
3) They requires 10% less installation space.
4) They can accommodate multiple installation formats, including anchorageand shore anchorage, and can be installed in different types of reservoirs.
5) The solar panels do not cast shadow on each other and are positioned at a 15o degree angle for maximum exposure to sunlight.
Thailand’s first floating solar solutions, Petty Patent No. 13153 and patents pending in Thailand and Singapore (Design Patents Pending No. 1602004725, 1602004726, 1602004727 in Thailand and Utility Patent Pending No.10201710335S in Singapore)
“We have developed the floating solar farm for use on different water surfaces. As a continuation of this project, we aim to become Thailand’s first integrated solution provider that offers a full range of services, from designing and manufacturing to installing and maintaining floating solar farms. These floating solar farms will not only allow entrepreneurs to maximize the utility of their space and reduce loss of water resources due to evaporation but also increase the total area dedicated to renewable energy production in Thailand.”
Cholanat Yanaranop, President, SCG Chemicals