BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP) has launched a 3.3 MW solar plant to power its Seria headquarters as it seeks to lower its carbon footprint.

HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, launched the flagship solar plant on Tuesday in his capacity as chairman of the Brunei Shell Joint Venture Companies.

Located at G11 along Seria’s Jalan Tengah, BSP’s solar park is the second solar plant in Brunei after Tenaga Suria Brunei began operations in 2010.

Almost 7,000 solar panels were installed on four hectares of land, with the plant producing electricity from March 30.

Taking over seven months to complete, the solar power will be integrated with BSP’s domestic grid, offsetting some of the power used at the BSP headquarters on Jalan Utara.

The solar power generated is equivalent to the electricity consumption of about 600 households a year, and will help contribute towards Brunei’s target of producing 100 MW of renewable energy by 2025.

Solar seems to be picking up momentum, with the government recently announcing plans to build three new solar farms in Tutong, Temburong and Kota Batu.

BSP’s 3.3 MW solar plant in Seria. Photo: Infofoto

Speaking at the launch event, BSP Head of Energy Transition Shirley Sikun said the plant uses bifacial solar panels that can produce energy on both sides of the panel.

“We are using this plant to understand the efficiency of the bifacial panels. The panel efficiency is 20 percent and the output expected is 5,000 MWh/year,” she said.

She added that the price of solar panels has declined significantly since Tenaga Suria Brunei was built over 10 years ago.

“If there’s an opportunity to see more installation of solar panels, then this is the time to do it,” Shirley said.

HRH Crown Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah operates a helicopter simulator at the Seria Energy Lab: Photo: Courtesy of BSP

BSP did not disclose the amount of investment, stating that the plant is “within the regional benchmark prices of solar plants”.

The life span of solar panels usually range from 25 to 30 years, with maintenance to be conducted every six months.

Addressing global trends in renewable energy, Shirley said the demand for oil and gas will continue for decades to come but the world is moving towards a low-carbon future.

“[The solar park] is our first step in acknowledging the fact that the world is changing and our core business remains. I’m sure whatever we do next is in line with where the world is going,” she continued.

Students engage in an interactive display at the revamped Seria Energy Lab. Photo: Courtesy of BSP

OGDC reopens as Seria Energy Lab

Prior to launching the solar plant, HRH Crown Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah unveiled the new Seria Energy Lab, formerly known as the Oil and Gas Discovery Centre.

The revamped Seria Energy Lab is a science centre that showcases new exhibits to foster students’ interest in renewable energy, environment and innovation, BSP said in a statement.

Visitors can expect interactive displays on smart drilling technology, an aqualab with a giant centrepiece that highlights “Life Beneath the Platforms”, and a helicopter simulator experience that is based on BSP’s aircraft services at Anduki Airfield.

With five key exhibits, the Seria Energy Lab also aims to encourage more students to follow STEM disciplines.