Facebook to buy electricity from Singapore’s largest offshore floating solar farm

Joshua S Hill
7 April 2021
(Renew Economy)

 

Singapore’s leading clean energy provider Sunseap has signed a multi-year Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA) with internet giant Facebook for electricity from the country’s largest offshore floating solar farm.

It comes less than a fortnight after Sunseap announced that it had completed construction of its 5MW offshore floating solar PV farm in the Straits of Johor, which is one of the world’s largest, consisting of 13,312 panels, 40 inverters, and more than 30,000 floats.

There are traditional three types of Power Purchase Agreements – onsite, sleeved, and synthetic, or virtual. An onsite PPA is when the system is installed on the site where it will be used.

A sleeved PPA involves an agreement between the renewable project, an energy retailer, and the buyer, with the energy retailer handling the transfer of money and electricity between generator and buyer – essentially, acting as a “sleeve” so electricity from the renewable project reaches the buyer directly.

A virtual PPA, however, is somewhat more amorphous and relies on renewable energy certificates. Instead of working behind the meter and handing electricity directly onsite or transferring it through a “sleeve” directly to the buyer, a VPPA tracks the renewable electricity from a wind or solar farm into its larger energy mix, but instead of acting as a “sleeve” for the electricity, it enters the larger pool.

The buyer is still buying the renewable energy at a fixed price, and must be operating on the same power grid, but receives unspecific power supply and renewable energy certificates instead of direct renewable electricity.

The VPPA signed between Sunseap and Facebook this week will provide Facebook with renewable energy credits and power to supply the tech company’s operations in Singapore, including Facebook’s first custom-built data centre in Asia.

“We are very pleased to be working with Facebook for a second VPPA,” said Lawrence Wu, co-founder and President of Sunseap Group. “This partnership is another significant step for Sunseap towards helping corporations meet their sustainability goals.

“This is our first floating solar project, so we’re particularly excited to support an innovative technology that will help bring more renewable energy projects online,” said Urvi Parekh, head of renewable energy at Facebook.

Sunseap and Facebook signed their first VPPA back in October of 2020 for electricity generated from a network of rooftop solar projects Sunseap is building across Singapore.

Set to be completed in 2022, the network is expected to consist of solar panels on 1,200 public housing residential blocks and 49 government buildings across Singapore and could generate as much as 100MW.

Sunseap has signed similar Power Purchase Agreements with other big name tech companies in recent months, including a recent agreement with Amazon for 62MW from solar systems Sunseap will build across an estimated 40 hectares of temporary vacant land across Singapore.

 

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