As the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has noted, floating PV (FPV) is a growing niche, but within that niche, like a Russian doll, is the smaller but similarly growing niche of offshore FPV.
While FPV projects on freshwater lakes and reservoirs have now been installed in more than 40 countries, offshore FPV does not have the luxury of such calm and protected waters, meaning the equipment for offshore applications needs to be of an exceptional and specialised quality.
Thankfully, the technology for these applications is improving rapidly. And considering a 2020 study by NREL estimated potential FPV on hydropower reservoirs at 7.6 TW, there has not yet been any serious calculation for the potential of offshore FPV, but one would think the figure enormous.
Unlocking this enormous potential depends on making the right technological advancements to develop offshore FPV arrays capable of withstanding ocean waves and winds. But there is no shortage of firms on the case. Take German wave energy technology company Sinn Power GmbH, which recently unveiled its first floating ocean ‘hybrid’ platform, that combines wave, wind and solar energy.
A G8 spokesperson told pv magazine Australia that practical trails of the Modular Tractive Buoyancy (MTB) technology, as well as the subsea stabilisation system and high-voltage subsea power connection to the floating hybrid plant “have proven successful in Singapore wit the Sunseap Woodlands Project. A 5 MW Pv system together with a 20 MW marine rated substation installed in early 2020 off the Northern coast of Singapore.”
“Our aim,” the spokesperson continued, “is to use this hybrid concept to increase the power generation capacity by up to 2 times that of a normal floating solar plant…G8 is presently in an advanced engineering study with WookYung Engineering and Construction of South Korea to construct a 3 MW turbine combined with 1 MW of solar on a stabilised platform.”
Or G8 Subsea (G8), a Singaporean company specialising in the engineering and construction of subaqueous energy infrastructure which connects offshore wind and floating PV (FPV) projects to land. The company has announced its pipeline of projects until 2024 and the list contains some ambitious FPV projects.
Projects include the 75 MW Sarawak FPV array in Malaysia, bidded to Sarawak Energy and a 100 MW FPV project in Ghana. On the engineering side the firm is also involved in the 145 MW Pandan FPV project in Singapore, and in the supply of floating substations for the 145 MW Cirata FPV array in Indonesia.
G8 told pv magazine Australia that discussions on these projects are at an advanced stage but that more information is currently bound up in non-disclosure agreements. However, site engineering and construction works are expected to begin “next year once concerns of the global pandemic subsides”. Of course, at the current rate the global pandemic is unlikely to subside next year.
G8 is targeting an initial public offering (IPO) in mid-2022, as it looks to firm investment. “We’re facing the greatest energy transition timeline of our generation,” said G8 founder and managing director, Gerald Tan, “and it’s all about solving a global problem, by developing better and more sustainable sources of energy. An IPO will enable us to enter the global renewables arena – we want to play at the international – not just the national – level. The growth prospects of this industry are limitless, and a public listing would better equip us to leverage that growth.”
“We’re the only company that offers a combination of both offshore wind and floating solar solutions…Not many companies have the specialised engineering know-how to play competitively in the offshore market – but we have proprietary subsea engineering and construction expertise. That augurs well for our future.”
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