Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thailand goes green with hydro-solar power



Thailand goes green with hydro-solar power

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Floating solar panels next to a substation for the Sirindhorn Dam hydro-solar farm run by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) are seen in Ubon Ratchathani on February 22. AFP

Thailand goes green with hydro-solar power

A vast array of solar panels floats on the shimmering waters of a reservoir in northeast Thailand, symbolising the kingdom’s drive towards clean energy as it seeks carbon neutrality by 2050.

The immense installation, covering 720,000sqm of water surface, is a hybrid system that converts sunlight to electricity by day and generates hydropower at night.

Touted by the authorities as the “world’s largest floating hydro-solar farm”, the Sirindhorn dam project in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani is the first of 15 such farms Thailand plans to build by 2037.

The kingdom is stepping up efforts to wean itself off fossil fuels, and at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow last year, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha set the target of carbon neutrality by 2050 followed by a net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2065.

The Sirindhorn dam farm – which began operations last October – has more than 144,000 solar cells, covering the same area as 70 football pitches, and can generate 45 megawatts of electricity.

“We can claim that through 45 megawatts combined with hydropower and energy management system for solar and hydro powers, this is the first and biggest project in the world,” Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) deputy governor Prasertsak Cherngchawano said.

The hybrid energy project aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 47,000 tonnes per year and to support Thailand’s push toward generating 30 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2037, according to EGAT.

But hitting these targets will require a major revamp of power generation.

Thailand still relies heavily on fossil fuel, with 55 per cent of power derived from natural gas as of October last year, compared with 11 per cent from renewables and hydropower, according to the Energy Policy and Planning Office, a department of the ministry of energy.

EGAT plans to gradually install floating hydro-solar farms in 15 more dams across Thailand by 2037, with a total power generation capacity of 2,725 MW.

The $35 million Sirindhorn project took nearly two years to build – including Covid-19 hold-ups caused by delays to solar panel deliveries and technicians falling sick.

Most of the electricity generated by the floating hydro-solar farm goes to the provincial electricity authority, which distributes power to homes and businesses in provinces in the lower northeastern region of Thailand.

As well as generating power, officials hope the giant solar farm will also prove a draw for tourists.

A 415m long “Nature Walkway” shaped like a sunray has been installed to give panoramic views of the reservoir and floating solar cells.

“When I learned that this dam has the world’s biggest hydro-solar farm, I knew it’s worth seeing with my own eyes,” tourist Duangrat Meesit, 46, said.

Some locals have reservations about the floating hydro-solar farm, with fishermen complaining they have been forced to change where they cast their nets.

“The number of fish caught has reduced, so we have less income,” village headman Thongphon Mobmai, 64, said.

“But locals have to accept this mandate for community development envisioned by the state.”

But the electricity generating authority insists the project will not affect agriculture, fishing or other community activities.

“We’ve used only 0.2 to 0.3 per cent of the dam’s surface area. People can make use of lands for agriculture, residency, and other purposes,” said EGAT’s Prasertsak.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival draws to close

    Cambodia's 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival wrapped up successfully on November 28 after a four-day run, with the film “Voice of the Night” awarded top prize for 2022. Sum Sithen, the organiser of the short film festival, told The Post that the number of attendees to the