23 May 2024

This is the hydro-floating solar hybrid project at Sirindhorn Dam, in the northeast province of Ubon Ratchathani. 

Some 144,417 units of solar panels are being installed on a reservoir, where workers are completing the last of seven solar farms covering 121 hectares of water area. Authorities are aiming to complete the project in June.

Chief of hydro-floating solar hybrid project at Sirindhorn Dam, Chanin Saleechan (ชนินทร์ สาลีจันทร์) said that the current progress of the project is at 90% completion. The project area is divided into seven platforms of floating solar cell panels.

Since November, the state-run Electricity Generation Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has been putting together floating solar platforms at the Sirindhorn dam, one of the country’s largest hydropower dams, which it says should have capacity to generate 45 megawatts of power.

EGAT is touting the pilot project as one of the world’s largest hybrid hydro-solar power ventures and aims to replicate it at eight more dams over the next 16 years.

An Energy Management System (EMS) will be used to switch between solar and hydropower, depending on which has more strength to generate electricity, a hybrid system project chief Chanin Saleechan said allows continuous power generation.

Still, the director of Bangkok-based non-governmental group Energy and Ecology Network said the floating solar-hydro plan could create an unnecessary and potentially costly capacity excess, although they support investment in renewable energy.

Thailand has long relied on coal for its power, but plans for new coal-fired projects have been met with opposition over health and environmental risks, including two proposed southern coal plants shelved in 2018. It is aiming to draw 35% of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2037, according to its latest Power Development Plan.