Masdar’s first floating solar power plant creates positive ripples in Indonesia

On the mirror-like surface of the Cirata reservoir in West Java, Indonesia, sits Southeast Asia’s largest floating solar power plant. 

Developed by Masdar and its partners, this feat of engineering will soon deliver renewable energy to 50,000 homes, cut emissions, and create widespread change in communities.

And just a few miles away from the 145 megawatt floating solar power plant, one school community is already benefiting. Headmistress Lilis Rustiati recalls how her village school used to be so dilapidated that students had to take shifts to study safely, but all that has now changed.

“The students were split into two groups – morning and afternoon – because we were worried about accidents that could happen as classrooms were falling apart,” she said. “But it turned out our prayers were answered.”

Help came from a less-than-obvious source.  Masdar, the UAE’s flagship renewable energy company, supported the school in fully refurbishing two classrooms, student toilets and the teachers’ lounge. A prayer room was also installed.

“The children are happy; the teachers are overjoyed.  It’s as we imagined,” says Ms Rustiati. “And now it’s not a fantasy – it’s a reality.”

This reality was made possible because of Masdar’s commitment to ensuring that the communities within which it operates feel the benefits of any project, said Fatima Al Suwaidi, President Director, Masdar Indonesia.

“For Masdar, the biggest impact is infrastructure, renovating schools around the area,” said Ms Al Suwaidi. “So, they (the children) go to school feeling happy and open to learning new things.”

Masdar has identified 15 schools that need to be repaired, she added. 

As well as rebuilding learning centers, the Cirata floating power plant is supporting Indonesia’s net zero by 2050 goal.  The plant, developed with partners PT Pembangkitan Jawa Bali Investasi (PJBI), will displace 21400,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year and create hundreds of local jobs. 

“Masdar and PJBI employed local communities and local people to work on the projects.  We provide specialist training for the operation and maintenance of the panels,” said Amir Faisal, President Director of PJBI.  

The project uses cutting-edge technology to allow solar power panels to be installed on water – an important development for countries where land is limited. Floating panels can also be more efficient, due to the water’s cooling effect.

As the world’s largest archipelago and Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, Indonesia was ideal for this innovative project. 

“The Cirata project from Masdar is very, very important,” said His Excellency Ridwan Kamil, Governor of West Java province. “The biggest in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and it showcases the commitment from the government because by 2050 we have committed to becoming net zero. 

“That’s the responsibility of my generation towards my children’s generation.”

Together with its partners, Masdar will continue to develop renewable energy projects that support this vital mission.