The Cirata project is Southeast Asia’s largest floating solar project, a recently inaugurated 250-hectare power plant in the Cirata Reservoir in West Java, Indonesia, which will generate 192 MW peak of clean energy, enough to displace more than 200 000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

It is one of a growing number of floating solar installations around the world that are building on existing hydropower plants as a way of ensuring consistent electricity generation.

The project is a collaboration of the Indonesian government, through PT PLN Nusantara Power, and Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy group Masdar. ABB has successfully installed, tested, and commissioned medium-voltage primary air-insulated switchgear (AIS) at Phase 1 of the project, whose capacity is almost 30 times that of Europe’s largest floating solar park in the Alqueva reservoir in Portugal. Its anchoring and mooring, which reach depths of 100 m at the Cirata Dam, are the deepest in the world. The switchgear consists of UniGear ZS1 units, equipped with Relion protection relays

A study in the science journal Nature calculated that covering just 10 % of the world’s hydropower reservoirs with floating solar panels could produce as much electricity as all of the world’s fossil fuel plants combined. In Indonesia, integrating rising levels of variable renewables into its power system is important to hitting its target of 23 % renewable power generation by 2025, and 31 % by 2050, from 14% now.

The Indonesian government is planning a further 60 floating PV installations like the Cirata plant. With 100 reservoirs and 521 natural lakes across the country, there is huge potential to use this project as a blueprint to replicate more floating solar power plants across the region, and around the world.

Image: The Cirata floating solar project in West Java, Indonesia