The biggest operational floating solar power plant in 2021 is in China. While China and India together account for six of the world’s ten biggest floating solar projects in various stages of development, South Korea accounts for two. Power Technology lists the ten biggest floating solar farms in the world by capacity.
Top ten floating solar farms by capacity
1. Saemangeum floating solar energy project – 2.1GW
2. Omkareshwar Dam floating solar farm – 600MW
3. Hangzhou Fengling Electricity Science Technology’s solar farm – 320MW
4. Three Gorges New Energy’s floating solar farm – 150MW
5. Cirata Reservoir floating photovoltaic (PV) power project – 145MW
6. NTPC Kayamkulam solar project – 105MW
7. NTPC Ramagundam solar power plant – 100MW
8. CECEP’s floating solar project – 70MW
9. Sembcorp’s Tuas floating solar project – 60MW
10. Hapcheon Dam floating PV power plant – 41MW
1. Saemangeum floating solar energy project
South Korea is developing the world’s biggest floating solar power plant near Saemangeum, an estuarine tidal flat on the coast of the Yellow Sea. The 2.1GW floating solar farm is a part of the planned mega renewable energy project of up to 3GW in the Yellow Sea off the coast of South Korea. The project is anticipated to generate electricity enough to serve the needs of one million homes. The installed capacity of the project is expected to be 14 times the size of the 150MW Huainan solar farm, currently the biggest operational floating solar farm in the world.
To be developed at a cost of KRW4.6tn ($3.96bn), the Saemangeum floating solar farm will be installed with more than five million solar modules over an area of 30km².
The Korean Government allayed fears that the glare from the floating array would affect the flight and landing operations of a US military base located nearby in November 2019, clearing the hurdle for the project.
Ocean Sun, a company based in Norway, and EN Technologies, a company based in South Korea, reached a deal for the deployment of the former’s systems at the Saemangeum floating solar project, in July 2020. Approximately 0.5GW of the total capacity will be developed by private companies.
SK E&S was named the preferred bidder to build a 200MW floating solar power plant near Saemangeum in September 2020. Construction of the same is expected to be started by the third quarter of 2021, with the aim of starting operations in 2023.
2. Omkareshwar Dam floating solar farm
A 600MW floating solar energy project is planned to be constructed at the Omkareshwar dam in Madhya Pradesh, India. Spanning 2,000ha, the proposed solar farm will be built on the Narmada River in the Khandwa district with an estimated investment of Rs30bn ($409.86m).
The feasibility study for the solar project was completed in partnership with the World Bank. Power Grid Corporation of India, International Finance Corporation and World Bank reached an in-principle agreement to fund the project.
Supported by a 400MW power purchase agreement (PPA) with Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company, the solar energy project is expected to come online by 2023. Ongoing works include a transmission line route survey from the project location to the substation in Khandwa.
A tender will soon be issued for the environmental and social impact study of the project. Madhya Pradesh is also reportedly planning to build a 1GW floating solar power project on the Indira Sagar dam in Khandwa.
3. Hangzhou Fengling Electricity Science Technology’s solar farm
Hangzhou Fengling Electricity Science Technology developed a 320MW floating PV power plant in China’s Zhejiang province in two phases. The first phase with a capacity of 200MW was completed in 2017 while the second phase of 120MW was completed in April 2020.
Built on the Changhe and Zhouxiang reservoirs in Cixi, the power plant produces approximately 352 million kilowatt-hours of green energy. The floating solar farm is installed with the PV central inverters supplied by KSTAR.
The project combines solar power and aquaculture operations. Fish cultivation is conducted in the waters below the PV panels.
4. Three Gorges New Energy’s floating solar farm
Located in Huainan City in China’s eastern province of Anhui, Three Gorges New Energy’s 150MW floating solar farm was built on a lake that came into existence after a former coal mine collapsed. The solar farm started feeding power into the national grid in December 2017. It overtook the 40MW floating array in Anhui as the biggest floating solar power plant.
The power plant will generate enough electricity to power 94,000 households. It is installed with solar modules supplied by LONGi Solar.
5. Cirata Reservoir floating photovoltaic (PV) power project
The 145MW Cirata floating PV project is proposed to be developed on a 225ha area on the Cirata Reservoir in Indonesia’s West Java Region. It aims to be the biggest floating PV project in South East Asia when completed.
Construction of the solar farm is expected to be commenced in the first half of 2021, with commercial operation planned for 2022. Set to be the country’s first floating solar power plant, the Cirata project will eliminate 214,000t of CO2 emissions a year and generate enough power to meet the electricity needs of 50,000 households.
Masdar and PT PJBI, a company based in Indonesia, formed a joint venture (JV) named Pembangkitan Jawa Bali Masdar Solar Energi (PMSE) to develop the Cirata floating PV project in December 2020. Masdar signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Indonesia’s state-owned electricity company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), the parent company of PT PJBI, for the offtake of power from the solar farm in January 2020.
6. NTPC Kayamkulam solar project
Tata Power Solar plans to build a 105MW floating solar power project on a reservoir of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) at Kayamkulam in Allappuzha, Kerala. The company received a letter of award (LoA) from NTPC, India’s state-owned power generation enterprise, in September 2019.
The power plant is expected to be commissioned within 21 months. The Rs3.43bn ($48.3m) project also includes a three-year operations and maintenance (O&M) component.
7. NTPC Ramagundam solar power plant
A 100MW floating solar farm at NTPC Ramagundam in Telangana, India is under construction. It will be installed on the company’s balancing reservoir spread across 450 acres of water surface.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the power plant was held in June 2020. The tender for the construction of the project was issued in December 2018 and the investment was approved in June 2019.
The Rs4.32bn ($56.78m) project was awarded to BHEL, an Indian public sector company involved in the engineering and manufacturing of power generation equipment. BHEL floated a tender for balance-of-system works for the NTPC Ramagundam floating solar project in April 2020.
8. CECEP’s floating solar project
Located in Anhui, China, the 70MW floating solar farm was connected to the power grid in March 2019. Owned by China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group (CECEP), the solar farm is installed with French floating solar specialist Ciel & Terre’s Hydrelio® technology.
The project covers more than 60ha and includes 194,731 floating solar panels. Ciel & Terre also supervised the design, supply and installation of the project’s anchoring solution. The company started the construction of the PV power plant in June 2017.
9. Sembcorp’s Tuas floating solar project
A 60MW floating solar plant will be constructed on Tengeh Reservoir in Tuas, Singapore, in an area equivalent to 45 football fields. Sembcorp was selected to build the project in February 2020.
Sembcorp Floating Solar Singapore, a subsidiary of Sembcorp, and Singapore’s national water agency PUB signed a 25-year PPA for the project in May 2020.
Construction of the power project was started in August 2020. Expected to be fully operational in 2021, the facility will be installed with more than 146,000 solar panels. It will be installed with double-glass PV modules for better durability in wet and humid conditions. It is expected to offset roughly 32,000t of carbon emissions a year and will have a service life of 25 years.
10. Hapcheon Dam floating PV power plant
Hanwa Q CELLS is building a 41MW floating PV power plant at South Korea’s Hapcheon Dam. K-water, the Korea Water Resources Institute, awarded the rights to develop the solar farm project to Q CELLS in August 2020.
The company received the final approval to start construction in November 2020. The project is anticipated to supply green energy that will be enough to power approximately 60,000 homes a year.
The plant’s design will resemble the plum blossom, which is the symbolic flower of the Hapcheon-gun region.