Positive outlook for financing floating solar projects in Southeast Asia
The proven ability to install large-scale floating PV plants on bodies of water across Southeast Asia means that funding should be readily available for new projects, it was suggested during ‘a round table today.
Asia dominates the pipeline of technology projects, according to consultancy firm Fitch Solutions, which said in a report last year that coastal regions and large bodies of water such as the Mekong River can be used to increase capacity. solar despite land constraints for ground installations.
Speaking at the Solar & Storage Finance Asia event, Daniel Mallo, head of natural resources and infrastructure, Asia-Pacific, at Société Générale, said: “From a technological point of view, we consider these assets as easily fundable. The technology is not too complex, the ability to deploy these solutions on the water is relatively proven.
Société Générale was part of a group of banks that last year financed Chenya Energy to support the developer in the construction of a 181 MWp floating offshore project in Taiwan. Mallo said the French bank is also in the process of closing a financing transaction for the 145 MW Cirata floating power plant which is being developed by Masdar on a reservoir in Java, Indonesia.
According to Mallo, the nature of floating solar means that the technology can bypass some of the land acquisition and licensing issues that can delay ground-based projects, especially if a project is deployed at a hydropower plant that already has a set of permits. “If you are collocating with a hydropower plant that already has a power purchase agreement with a buyer, it might be possible to extend that PPA to a floating solar secondary asset in the same location with the same buyer.”
A study published last year by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) found that the market potential of floating PV in the ASEAN market is at least 24 GW, with particularly promising prospects. for the segment in the Philippines and Thailand.
However, Elrika Hamdi, energy finance analyst at IEEFA, said the sector faces obstacles in the form of regulations, which are currently not available in much of the market, and the need to often work alongside the authorities to carry out projects. In Vietnam, for example, many large hydropower plants are owned by the EVN utility or government, so there is a need to negotiate with them to use the water bodies for new projects. Hamdi said it was similar in the Philippines, where large-scale projects, including a 110 MW installation at Laguna de Bay, are still being negotiated with authorities.
In terms of technical constraints, Benoit Nguyen, responsible for renewable energies APAC at DNV, spoke about some of the challenges associated with the combination of floating photovoltaic and hydroelectric plants, such as the need to take into account the water currents in the reservoirs as well as as water levels fluctuate up to meters due to heavy rainfall in the area. In addition, if a floating PV plant was not originally planned, the current substation may have limited space.
Despite these challenges, Nguyen sees significant advantages in combining floating solar power with hydropower, for example by increasing the distribution capacity of the floating photovoltaic system, reducing reductions and sharing infrastructure with the existing hydropower plant.
DNV has been engaged by Singapore’s National Water Agency PUB as a technical advisor for the recently completed 60 MW Tengeh Reservoir Floating Solar Project. The company also released a Recommended Practice for Floating Solar Power earlier this year, working with industry players to offer advice to project developers and suggestions on how policymakers can support growth. of technology.
Nguyen said the recommended practice provides information on how to conduct the site assessment, examining bathymetry and wave conditions, and explores the type of equipment and floats used in existing systems. “It can be used as a guidance document or a checklist… We hope it will be used to increase the quality and reliability of floating PV projects.