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PROJECTS


Floating off the coast of Woodlands


OFFSHORE FLOATING PHOTOVOLTAIC (OFPV) SYSTEM


Solar energy is perpetual—as long as there is irradiance from sunlight, a solar farm will continue to produce clean energy to


supply to the national grid. With scheduled maintenance of the physical structure, such as cleaning of the solar panel surfaces, the facility can continue to operate and reduce the reliance on conventional fossil fuels. For countries like Singapore, with a high population density and competing uses for available land, a floating solar farm opens up new opportunities for scaling up solar generating capacity. This project showcases how offshore solar panel installations can be a viable alternative to generate clean energy beyond traditional land-based systems.


THE SOLAR FARM & THE BARGE Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity by absorbing sunlight and use the energy to create an electrical current. There are two main parts that form the offshore floating PV structure. The first is solar farm, where power is harvested and current is generated. This structure is secured to the sea bed by mooring points with sinkers that anchor the structure in place. The solar panels and inverters (which converts AC to DC) are secured to floaters at designated points, and this ensures that the array of solar panels remains as one complete structure. The solar farm’s output is then to be routed to the national grid by the second part of the structure, the barge. Secured by mooring points to the sea bed with sinkers, the barge houses the electrical equipment such as transformers, junction boxes and cables.


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CONSTRUCTION CHALLENGES Construction of a structure like the OFPV relies heavily on manpower. As foreign workers make up the bulk of the construction crew in Singapore, there was a manpower shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic due to lockdowns and other ‘circuit breaker’ protocols that were implemented, resulting in potential delays to completion of the OFPV system. The company was, however, able to avoid serious delays as its employees stepped forward and volunteered to help with the installation of the OFPV system.


As most large-scale floating PV systems are built on freshwater ponds, lakes or reservoirs such as in Tengeh, this OFPV project brought with it a unique set of challenges as it is a novel system that was constructed offshore and on a larger scale. In this regard, the team had to ensure that additional factors were taken into account during the planning stages, such as issues relating to the solar farm being exposed to the elements, the tidal fluctuation of seawater, the need to avoid shipping routes and the presence of barnacles.


Upon its completion, this OFPV System will generate about 6,388 MWh of renewable energy annually. This is equivalent to powering about 1,250 four-room flats (of approximately 90 square metres in size each) annually.


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