Siam Cement Group hopes to win the first contract to install a 45-megawatt floating solar farm at Thailand’s Sirindhorn Dam
Solar farms take up land, which is especially precious in areas with dense populations—and those areas need renewable power most.
To solve this paradox, populous countries short on land have started to turn to solar farms that float on reservoirs and dams. Of the world’s 1.1 gigawatts of floating solar capacity, 450 megawatts exists in China, Japan, India, and South Korea.
Thailand now wants in, and an unlikely player is vying to get a big share of that market. Thailand’s Siam Cement Group (SCG), one of Southeast Asia’s largest building-material companies, has developed floating solar modules that it will build, install, and maintain.
As the only large Thai company making floating panels, it hopes to land contracts to build at least some of the 1 GW of floating solar capacity that state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) plans to install across eight dams over the next two decade
Floating solar is attractive in Thailand, and the country’s several hydropower plants offer ideal staging waters. “Hydropower and floating solar make a lot of sense together because the grid infrastructure is already built,” Macknick says. Hydropower can balance out solar’s variable output, he adds, and “floating systems on reservoirs could reduce evaporation from those reservoirs, which means more fuel for hydropower systems.”