Taiwan′s Floating Solar Farms in Reservoirs Causing Safety Concern

Chengcing Lake in Kaohsiung

Taiwan Power Company and Taiwan Water Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on November 30, intending to construct floating solar farms in two reservoirs in the southern part of Taiwan, with a total designed capacity of 5,000 kWs. However, soon after the MOU was signed, the project received strong opposition due to concern of water security and landscape disruption. More unfortunately, at the same time, fierce arguments about the completed floating solar farm projects have continuously emerged in the community.

Ministry of Economic Affairs (Taiwan): suspend the floating solar farm on Chengcing Lake

The project mentioned above was planned to construct two floating solar farms: one would be located in the Lantan Reservoir in Chiayi; and another in the Chengcing Lake Reservoir in Kaohsiung. Some representatives point out that the construction would disrupt the landscape of the reservoirs, hinder people’s daily rest, as well as threaten water security. In the meantime, they call on the government to give priority to the silted reservoirs for the construction.

In view of the increasingly strong opposition, Chih-Kung Lee, Minister of Economic Affairs, said recently that the plan to construct a floating solar farm in the Chengcing Lake Reservoir would be suspended, and the one in the Lantan Reservoir was still under further consideration. Chih-Kung Lee also emphasized that the landscape issue had already been taken into account for the two solar farms – the area of photovoltaic panels laid on the water, would not exceed 2 percent of the water area of each reservoir.

According to the official plan by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the total capacity of floating solar farms is designed to reach 150 MWs within 2 years. Now, the construction in reservoirs is receiving opposition and suspicion, but the construction in other water space like flood detention basins will be gotten more resources. And the government has also promised to pay special attention to the overall landscape design and local characteristics and other issues, in the tenders.

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Even there’s opposition, the vision of a “floating solar world” keeps moving forward

Even though the project in the Chengcing Lake Reservoir would be suspended, a small batch of floating solar farms have continuously been completed. Taiwan’s first floating solar farm was put in operation in February this year. This farm, with a capacity of 499 KWs, is located on a flood detention basin in Pingtung County. Its floating platform comes from the local manufacturer Sun Rise E&T Corporation.

Floating Solar Farm in Pingtung County
A floating solar farm in Pingtung County. Photo: EnergyTrend

In fact, there’s another issue making the construction of floating solar farms in Taiwan not easy. Due to the special climate in Taiwan, the water level of reservoirs and flood detention basins would change greatly, resulting in challenges for both the construction and operation. Even so, referring to Japan, the United Kingdom and other international experience, it shows great advantages to construct solar farms on water surfaces – effective utilization of space, water conservation and higher efficiency of power generation with water cooling effect. For these, the government has officially added floating solar farm systems into the 2017 wholesale purchasing program.

Just in August this year, the Southern Resources Bureau of the Water Resources Agency finalized the tender for the floating solar farm in the A-kung-tien Reservoir. This project is expected to reach a capacity of 2.3 MWs by the end of June in 2017, and will complete the total capacity of 5 MWs by the end of 2018. Upon completion, it is expected to generate 6.6 million kWh per year. The A-kung-tien Reservoir has a slight change of water level, abundant sunlight and two drainage facilities – all these make it an ideal place for floating solar farm construction.

Also in August, the government held a seminar to discuss the potential for a floating solar system in the Mudan Reservoir in Pingtung County. Moreover, floating solar farms in other reservoirs are being pushed into the progress of feasibility study. comment

Steven Kwok
Steven is based in China – a researcher, reporter and marketer whose work spans the fields of energy, sociology, marketing and economy. Passionate about life and nice stuff on the earth, like renewables and natural scenery. Has a master’s degree in Brand Communication and endeavors to integrate the force of sustainable development enthusiasts to popularize solar energy and solar lifestyle.