The process of installing electrical and construction components. Source: Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS)

Indonesia’s first marine floating solar power plant prototype launched

The first marine floating solar power plant prototype in Indonesia, Solar2Wave, has been launched, backed by funding from Innovative UK. 

The process of installing electrical and construction components. Source: Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS).

The companies and universities that joined together to launch the prototype in March are Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS) together with Cranfield University, Universitas Pattimura, Orela Shipyard, PT Gerbang Multindo Nusantara, Achelous Energy, and HelioRec.

ITS Chancellor, Mochamad Ashari, said that the present growth of floating solar power plants in Indonesia is still restricted to the lake or reservoir scale. This restricted area makes the utilization area for floating solar power plants less than optimal. “Therefore, to maximize the potential and impact of this floating solar power plant, we are expanding its application area to the sea,” said Ashari.

I Ketut Aria Pria Utama, Head of the Solar2Wave Indonesia research team, described Solar2Wave as a project aimed at creating a floating solar panel setup with a built-in system to overcome wave-related problems. According to ITS, the setup includes floaters and a surrounding breakwater designed to reduce the impact of strong waves on the solar panels.

The prototype comprises six monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels with a combined capacity of 600 W. Additionally, Solar2Wave includes an energy storage system, such as a 12 V battery with a voltage of 65 AH. “The floating cubes used have also been certified and are resistant to ultraviolet light, anti-corrosion from seawater, chemicals, and oil,” added Ikap.

Solar panel prototype on display at the Launch and Inauguration of Solar2Wave in the ITS Research and Innovation Gallery. Source: Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS).

Following the prototype development at the Orela shipyard area in Gresik, the Solar2Wave research pilot project will advance to the Gili Ketapang area in Probolinggo, East Java. Ikap stated that the choice of this location was based on factors such as the local demand for electricity assistance, social conditions, and accessibility to the Solar2Wave installation site.

The pilot project’s construction will have a capacity of 25 KW, aiming to decrease reliance on diesel-fueled power plants. Ikap added: “Solar2Wave is projected to be able to support the daily electricity needs of the people as well as an ice cube factory, which is one of the important needs of fishermen in the Gili Ketapang area.” 

The initial research stage, spanning from March 2023 to February 2024, faced obstacles in development, including uncontrollable ocean wave conditions, weather complexities, intricate maintenance, and unpredictable operational costs, according to ITS.

During this initial stage, Solar2Wave research received £300,000 in funding from Innovate UK. For the upcoming research phase commencing in April 2024, the project is slated to receive £500,000 in funding. “Moving ahead, the number of research partners will also increase, especially from the government,” noted the ITS Professor of Naval Architecture Department.

Fredy Leiwakabessy expressed that the implementation of this project signifies the utilization of Indonesia’s vast marine resources to promote community welfare equality. The Chancellor envisions that this initiative will expedite community welfare, particularly in Maluku.

As recent research shows, a lack of suitable sites for onshore solar farms intensifies the need for innovative solutions, therefore floating solar is expected to play a key role in Southeast Asia’s solar expansion.

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