BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — The Ministry of Energy has identified nine potential sites for the deployment of medium-to-long term floating solar farms.

The sites include Ulu Tutong Dam, Benutan Reservoir, Kago Dam, Mengkubau Dam, Tasek Lama, Imang Reservoir, Sengkurong Lake, Ikas lake and Tasek Pelangi Biru.

Muhammad Hasbur Rahman Yahaya, an officer from the ministry’s Renewable Energy Unit, said a feasibility study on floating solar panels has been completed.

“We now want to venture on a 1 MW floating solar demonstration project at Tasek Pelangi Biru, Mentiri, which will be executed soon, pending confirmation from our partners,” he said on Tuesday.

Muhammad Hasbur was a speaker at the Renewable Energy Policy and Development Forum, co-organised by the Ministry of Energy and Universiti Brunei Darussalam during the Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition.

Muhammad Hasbur Rahman Yahaya, from the energy ministry, speaks at the Renewable Energy Policy and Development Forum. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Floating solar panels are mounted on structures above water surfaces at lakes and reservoirs, with the potential to reduce water temperatures and offset climate change.

However, Muhammad Hasbur said floating solar farms have multiple disadvantages including water body ownership issues and the potential need for higher protection standards.

Floating solar systems are also perceived to be a high-risk investment due to its lower level of maturity, and cost more compared to ground-mounted solar panels.

The sites identified for floating solar farms have the potential to produce 2,323 MW of solar power by 2035.

The government plans to gradually shift from fossil fuels to clean energy as natural gas is still Brunei’s top electricity source.

All four districts are expected to operate solar farms within five years, as part of the energy ministry’s plans to achieve at least 30 percent of renewable energy in installed power capacity by 2035.

Muhammad Hasbur said the ministry decided to deploy floating solar farms because land use is prioritised for industrial development, which doesn’t include green technologies. 

The energy ministry aims to achieve at least 100 MW of renewable energy capacity in the power generation mix by 2025.

Currently, 4.9 MW of Brunei’s total installed power capacity is from renewable energy.

Another speaker at the forum, Abdul Matiin Kasim, said Brunei’s target of achieving at least 30 percent of renewable energy by 2035 is ambitious but attainable.

He added that Brunei offers the most conducive environment for solar panel installation with high radiance level and small range of variation.

Solar panel projects are becoming more bankable with the declining cost of solar technologies over the past 10 years, he said.

“There have been successful public-private partnership models and business models that are viable based on international best practices.

“The solar energy industry will also create economic spinoffs such as increased local participation, business development and green employment.”