Floating PV to splashdown in Vietnam

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Vietnamese hydropower producer Da Mi Hydropower Joint Stock Co., a unit of Vietnamese power utility Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), is planning to deploy a 47.5 MW floating solar plant at the water reservoir where its Da Mi hydro power plant is located, in Binh Thuan province.

According to a document published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is considering providing financial backing to the project, the installation will occupy a total surface of 51.55 ha, which includes 5.8 ha of land for the deployment of the transmission lines for the grid-connection of the facility. The construction of the lines will involve three communes, including La Ngau Commune (Tanh Linh District), La Da Commune and Da Mi Commune (Ham Thuan Bac District).

“The project is requested to contact DoNRE of Binh Thuan Province to obtain the permit for surface water area lease but at the time of writing this IESE report, DHD has not obtained such permit as required,” the ADB said in its document.

The international lender also revealed that a regulatory environmental impact assessment for the project was prepared and approved by the local authorities in October 2017, while in March of this year, one of its executives was tasked with conducting environmental and social due diligence. After its completion, the ADB continued, a corrective action plan was  defined, in order to improve the project’s previous assessment.

The project, for which the adoption of storage solutions has been excluded, is set to rely on polycrystalline 72-cell modules with an output of 330 W. Furthermore, it includes a 110kV substation, which is expected to be constructed at the shore of Da Mi reservoir in La Ngau Commune, and two transmission lines of 22kV and 110kV, and of 1.2 km and 3.3 km, respectively.

“Binh Thuan is the site of several renewable energy projects including wind and solar and will be important for Vietnam’s diversification of power instead of hydro-power,” the ADB said. The province, however, is also preparing to host two more coal-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 9.56 GW, according to recent plans from the Vietnamese governmemt.

The ADB is also supporting three other Asian countries in the field of floating PV: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and the Kyrgyz Republic.

Vietnam is currently supporting large-scale solar through a FIT mechanism, which was launched in April 2017. Under the scheme, solar projects are granted a 20-year FIT rate of VND 2,086 ($0.090)/kWh. The latest project commissioned under the scheme is a 48 MW (DC) solar power plant built by Sharp Energy Solutions Corporation (SESJ), which is a unit of Japan’s Sharp conglomerate, the Thanh Thanh Cong Group (TTC Group), and the Gia Lai Electricity Joint Stock Company.

“Under a joint project with the TTC Group and others, Sharp is also constructing two other solar power plants in Vietnam: one in Binh Thuan Province and one in Long An Province. Each of these new plants will have a capacity of approximately 49 MW-dc. Sharp remains committed to spreading renewable energy in Vietnam,” Sharp said in its press release.

Recent years have brought plenty of hype around the potential for floating solar systems as a major source of new installed capacity. Two projects, one from the Solar Energy Research Center in Singapore (SERIS) and one managed by a consortium of research institutes and industry players in the Netherlands, are underway to evaluate and optimize such systems, and overcome remaining challenges to widespread deployment. These will be examined in the upcoming November edition of pv magazine.