Government is to embark on a floating solar project as it can potentially work well with hydro power generation. Any new power generation also requires new power infrastructure but if solar puts near hydro, the same power infrastructure can be used, a World Bank expert said.
Sri Lanka has many water bodies that could potentially be used for floating solar,” said World Bank Senior Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist Kristoffer Welsien.
The Cabinet nod has been granted to install two floating solar plants as a pilot project with 6.83 billion Korean Won funding from the South Korean government.
The Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera on Monday sought the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers to sign the discussion paper with the Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology and the Department of External Resources to start and implement the pilot project.
Under the Framework Convention on Grant Aid signed between the Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka in 2009, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea has agreed to provide a grant amounting 6.83 billion Korean Won for the floating solar power project.
The implementation of a pilot project is aimed to install floating solar panel power plants with 1 MW capacity on the surface of Kiriibban Wewa reservoir and Chandrika Wewa reservoirs in the Ratnapura District.
Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology is acting as the monitoring agency for the pilot project on behalf of the South Korean government.
Sri Lanka needs to add an estimated 11,000 MW to its power grid within the next two decades to meet growing demand. Adding large-scale floating solar plants would not only make electricity greener and affordable but improve Sri Lanka’s overall economic competitiveness as well.
By identifying large water bodies for floating solar, Sri Lanka also can tap into the multiple benefits of lower evaporation, higher solar panel efficiency due to cooling effect, complementarity with hydro power generation and, efficient management of peak hours.
While environmental and social impacts need to be carefully studied and managed, strategic, and well-managed floating solar projects could also improve water quality by limiting algae growth.
The synergies from combining floating solar with existing hydropower plants can be significant and can add much-needed diversity to Sri Lanka’s power generation mix, the World Bank expert said.
Sri Lanka’s power mix could potentially benefit from greater solar power generation during the day and a switch to hydro in the night. Seasonally, floating solar could produce power during the dry months while throughout the monsoon rains hydro could play a larger role in the energy mix.
Sri Lanka has also trialled a small pilot floating solar project, but its capacity is just some tens of kW. Experts believe that to reap economies of scale and for floating solar to make a significant contribution to power generation, projects need to be scaled up to about 100MW-200MW.