Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Solar Projects In Singapore

Singapore start to have promising solar energy related news recently. After announcing Singapore's first solar leasing project in September 2011, Housing Development Board (HDB), the largest residential building owner in Singapore, has announced that it will run a $4 million test project of solar power with more efficient Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) thin-film technology. HDB will install these solar panels in 20 to 25 HDB blocks and expects to generate 1 MWp (megawatt peak) of electricity from them.

CIGS based solar cells have better absorption rate then traditional silicon based solar cells and they may have better throughput in Singapore. Although it is always summer in Singapore, this tropical sun is mostly behind thick clouds.[1]

Currently electricity generated from solar panels costs 30 to 35 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) compared to prevailing tariffs of 27 cents but this cost is falling fast. With the current falling price trend of solar panels, which forms the bulk of the cost, it may well catch grid parity soon:

""While it can be debated whether the initial support from governments for the solar industry was essential to its development, the world is now much closer than it was 10 years ago to grid parity, with some local experts even forecasting parity in Singapore by 2016."

Grid parity means electricity from non-renewable sources will cost the same as renewable's."[2]

Yet another news on the solar front came from Economic Development Board (EDB) and water agency pub. They have announced Singapore's first floating solar project which will be located at Tengeh Reservoir:

"The $11 million pilot project is the first of its kind in the region and has a system size of 2 megawatts (MW).

The project aims to assess the viability of installing floating solar photovoltaic systems on water as an alternative to rooftops."

Floating solar systems can be a better fit for Singapore where land is scarce and tropic heat radiating from the ground can decrease the efficiency of the solar panels.

Increased used of solar energy, albeit some form of support from public bodies like HDB, is something which should be carefully watched. If solar parity is reached in Singapore where the government does not waste taxpayers money to subsidize unsustainable green technologies and do not have feed in tarrifs, then rest of the developed world can turn to solar power as a viable alternative.

[1] - HDB to test solar technology in 6 precincts
[2] - S'pore solar industry still fledgling
[3] - Singapore gets first floating solar platform at Tengeh

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