Masdar and PLN inaugurate 192MWp ‘largest’ floating PV site in Southeast Asia

The Cirata floating solar plant in Indonesia. Image: Masdar

The Indonesian state utility PLN and UAE state-run renewables developer Masdar have inaugurated the 145MWac (192MWp) Cirata floating solar PV (FPV) plant in the West Java province of Indonesia.

Opened by the president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, Masdar and PLN said that the plant is the ‘largest’ FPV site in Southeast Asia, a region which leads the world in FPV deployments. Cirata is a first for Masdar – an arm of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company – on two counts: its first FPV project and its first entry into Southeast Asia.

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Masdar has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with PLN to develop Cirata phase II which would add up to 500MW capacity.

Indonesian minister of energy and mineral resources, Arifin Tasrif said: “The capacity of the Cirata Floating PLTS could be greater, with a maximum total potential reaching around 1.2GW peak, if it utilised 20% of the total area of the Cirata reservoir.”

Masdar said that the expansion of the project into its second phase is made possible by a recent legislation change from the Ministry of Public Works and Housing that allows for 20% of water to be covered for renewable energy purposes, which would likely be dominated by floating PV.

Tasrif continued: “With the operation of the Cirata Floating PV, we hope it will increase investor confidence and encourage technological innovation as a solution to limited land in developing solar energy, where Indonesia has enormous floating PV potential.”

It’s not only floating solar that has huge potential in Indonesia: earlier this month the government published a draft of its Comprehensive Investment and Policy Plan (CIPP) that set out plans to drastically increase all forms of solar PV deployment and target 264.6GW capacity by mid-century. The government said that FPV has the potential to exceed 28GW capacity under this proposal.

The region is so suitable for FPV because of its topography, amongst other things. Mountains and a lot of agriculture, combined with lots of bodies of water and a growing population, mean that floating solar provides a useful route to keeping deployment rates up. Panels deployed on water can also be more efficient due to their lower temperatures, and the shading from the panels can reduce water evaporation and preserve water for drinking or irrigation.

Masdar framed this investment in the context of the upcoming COP28 conference in the UAE, due to be chaired by Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber who also chairs Masdar and heads up the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Masdar’s parent company.

In its press release, the company said that the Cirata FPV project “demonstrates the UAE’s commitment to supporting countries around the world with their decarbonisation plans.” Indeed, many of its recent moves see Arab state-owned Masdar extending its influence to generation projects in other, often less economically powerful, nations like Azerbaijan, where it has plans for 10GW of solar and wind, Malaysia, with another 10GW, and Ethiopia.

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