Singapore Solar Energy Profile
Singapore continues to advance towards achieving its renewable energy and climate change goals, installing rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on public housing, and more recently with the launch of floating solar energy RD initiatives and project development. The country could be doing more, faster, according to some, more specifically when it comes to policy-making and adoption of solar energy in the commercial and industrial (CI) sector, however.
Solar power generation capacity in Singapore is likely to exceed 350 megawatts-peak (MWp) by 2020, a national goal, Jasper Wong, the head of Construction and Infrastructure, Sector Solutions Group for United Overseas Bank’s (UOB) Wholesale Banking Group, told Solar Magazine. “By using solar power, companies have the opportunity to transition to a renewable energy source, to lower their carbon emissions and also to reduce their energy costs. In addition, with solar energy costs declining rapidly over the last few years, it has become more cost-effective for companies to explore the use of such energy,” Wong said.
Solar energy investment and capacity deployment could be growing faster, some in the solar industry say, however. “It’s true that Singapore doesn’t have lots of land for project development. The good thing is the government of Singapore is doing its best to drive ‘solarization’ and clean energy in a step by step manner, but if you consider Singapore has 2 gigawatts (GW) of solar power potential and you look at the level and speed of activity—around 200 megawatts-peak (MWp) of installed capacity—progress hasn’t been all that impressive,” Atem Ramsundersingh, founder and CEO of regional distributed solar and clean energy investor and developer WEnergy Global, said in an interview.
Singapore’s energy resource- and tech-agnostic policy approach
“Singapore’s energy policy is to not favor one form of energy over the other, but rather organize supply and demand through a market-based platform, the National Electricity Market of Singapore (NEMS),” Thomas Reindl, Deputy CEO of the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), explained in an interview.
“Given Singapore’s land and water resource limitations, it has been taking pragmatic and measured steps in promoting solar energy as a sustainable renewable energy source,” Reindl said. A long road lies ahead before Singapore achieves those goals, however.
The SolarNova program “will see the progressive roll-out of 350 MWp across 5,500 HDB (Housing Development Board) blocks by 2020, generating an estimated 420 GWh of solar energy annually,” added UOB’s Wong.
This is about 5% of the country’s total energy consumption, equivalent to powering 88,000 four-room flats.
Singapore’s Floating Solar Test-Bed
“As an Asian megacity, Singapore will always be space-constrained, which then requires some ‘out of the box thinking’ when it comes to solar PV deployment,” Reindl noted. “One suitable area was determined to be the many reservoirs, which act as rainwater capture and are an integral part of the potable water supply system here.”
As a result, Singapore’s government invested in what’s said to be the world’s largest test-bed for floating solar energy technology and systems in order to assess the benefits and learn how to best scale-up this new technology option.
SERIS designed and built floating solar, or floating PV (FPV), test-bed and carries out RD there. FPV is catching on in countries across Southeast and East Asia, including in China and Thailand. Singapore’s solar RD institute is playing an active role in creating a region-wide FPV community.
“A total of 108,000 residential accounts and 9,500 business accounts were able to exercise this choice of electricity provider,” international market research consultancy Capgemini found in a study released in November 2018.
Solar PV energy is also cost-competitive with the wholesale, National Electricity Market (NEM) “Uniform Singapore Energy Price” (USEP), Reindl pointed out. “This, however, is dependent on future oil and gas prices, as solar electricity competes with conventional power generation, which, for the case of Singapore, largely comes from gas-fired power plants.”
Singapore’s long march towards sustainable energy market liberalization
Singapore began its long march towards energy market liberalization, or privatization, more than two decades ago. Efforts continue today, most notably with the November 1, 2018 launch of the Open Electricity Market, which is intended to spur introduction of innovative, cost-effective, sustainable energy alternatives and further break up state-owned monopoly power generation by opening up private sector opportunities to enter and compete in the energy market.
Today, Singapore Power (SP), which remains wholly-owned by the government’s Temasek investment fund, consists of four major operating subsidiaries.
- Formed in October 2003, SP PowerGrid is the exclusive electricity transmission and distribution utility with assets valued at S6.5 billion (USD4.78 billion) as of end-March.
- SP PowerGas is the sole operator, pipeline owner-operator and distributor of natural gas in the nation.
- SP Services provides customer services for electricity, piped gas and water supplies in Singapore. That includes providing meter reading and data management, along with energy customer, independent power producer and energy services provider registration, billing and account administration.
- SP Telecom owns, builds, powers and operates Singapore’s communications infrastructure and services.
Zooming in on rooftops and reservoirs
Aiming to spur solar energy growth, Singapore’s government and RD organizations early on zoomed in on rolling out rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems across the nation’s extensive stock of public housing developments. That has since extended into building-integrated solar PV research and development.
Singapore is also looking to spur adoption of lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery energy storage systems (BESS), which are proving they have the ability to store and dispatch electricity much more efficiently and effectively than traditional coal and natural-gas-fired “peaker” power plants. Key to spurring adoption, the sharp drops in the cost of Li-ion BESS, in particular, is enhancing the economics, and feasibility, of deploying energy storage capacity to the point where systems are being installed as a substitute for peaker power plants in a growing range of markets around the world.
“With the significant decline in the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of more than 70% since 2010 across the globe, the supply of solar energy has become more cost-competitive,” Reindl pointed out. “In addition, the lower cost of lithium-ion batteries, which are used to store solar energy given the intermittent nature of such power, has also enhanced the cost-competitiveness of solar.”
Singapore’s FPV test-bed extends and expands on these initiatives, as does its Pulau Ubin microgrid test-bed and Experimental Urban Micro-grid@Singapore Institute of Technology. Microgrids often incorporate solar PV and battery energy storage capacity, along with adaptive Smart grid technology and networks.
Financing creation of a decentralized, clean energy system
“The future power system could be increasingly decentralized, as the costs of adopting solar, energy storage systems and Smart grid technologies decline,” EMA says. “EMA has been working with local industry partners and academia to understand the potential of micro-grids for Singapore’s future energy system.”
A leading Singapore-based and regional banking group, UOB is actively engaged in solar energy finance in a variety of aspects and at a variety of different levels. “UOB is focused on creating sustainable value for our stakeholders and is committed to working with our clients to support the development of sustainable cities and communities,” Wong told Solar Magazine. “We support companies in meeting the region’s infrastructure needs in areas such as energy, transport, environmental management and Smart buildings.”
Wong cited the following as illustrations of UOB’s activities in the sector:
- In June 2019, UOB provided a S43 million green loan to Sunseap to install solar power systems on 210 rooftop sites across Singapore. Combined, the sites have a total solar capacity of 37 megawatt-peak (MWp) and the solar power generated will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17,000 tonnes per year.
- UOB also provided Sunseap a S15 million loan in 2017 for the development of a 9.5MWp PV system at the Jurong Port—the world’s largest solar system installed at a port—as well as to develop a 2.4MWp commercial solar system at Panasonic.
- In 2018, UOB was appointed the co-lead arranger for Sinar Kamiri’s Green Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) Sukuk Wakalah fundraising exercise of up to RM245.0 million (~USD59.2 million). The funds were for the development of a 49-MW solar PV plant in support of the Malaysian government’s target of having renewable energy contributing 20% of the national energy mix by 2025. Sinar Kamiri’s Green SRI Sukuk Wakalah was assigned a Tier-1 Environmental Benefit rating, the highest of three ratings, by RAM Consultancy, Wong highlighted.
Singapore’s clean energy transition: Challenges remain
In addition to land constraints, at times overly burdensome regulations make for a solar energy market and industry that’s less open and less competitive that it could be in Singapore, according to Ramsundersingh. Reticence on the part of commercial and industry (CI) property owners and managers to switch from the reliable fossil fuel-based energy resources, technology and distribution networks they know has proven to be another obstacle to solar market growth, as has opposition on the part of the fossil fuel industry, which plays a large role in Singapore’s economy.
“You must determine what is the best business model for the private sector to come in and build large-scale solar capacity. It’s a complicated environment, regulations are strict and Singapore is one country in a global market. In Singapore, every transmission line or cable needs to be underground. The cost of transmission and distribution will be pretty high,” Ramsundersingh highlighted. “If you manage to find low-cost capital, good investors and an excellent construction company, you may be able to earn some sort of single-digit return. When global players think about where to allocate capital, there may be more attractive countries, even given Singapore’s advantages.”
Commercial and industrial property owners and managers in Singapore have been reluctant to invest in and deploy solar, Ramsundersingh pointed out. “People in Singapore are used to reliability, comfort, and a level of luxury, so why take the risk?”
All that said, “SERIS is confident that Singapore will achieve the targets of 350 MWp by 2020 and 1 GWp beyond 2020, so there is ample room for growth,” Reindl said. Besides its space constraint, he cited two other challenges, which SERIS and other RD institutes, such as the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and ERI@N are addressing.
“One is PV grid integration. Due to the tropical climate conditions, the solar resource is highly variable due to frequent changes in Cloud cover. At the same time, Singapore has one of the most stable power grids in the world, which cannot be jeopardized,” Reindl explained.
Therefore, SERIS and others work intensively on developing suitable mitigation measures for the integration of a growing number of highly distributed PV installations into the electric power system, such a solar forecasting, storage technologies and demand-side management.
A second challenge is the result of being located in a tropical, hot and humid climate, which takes a heavy toll on electric and electronic equipment, reducing their useful lives, Reindl continued.
SERIS and other leading RD institutes are working to resolve this issue as well so as to ensure PV systems installed in tropical climates last as long as those installed in temperate climates, Reindl concluded. comment
You may also be interested in other solar energy profiles.
- Thailand Solar Energy Profile: Results of General Election Might Set the Stage for Solar to Play a Much Greater Role in Thailand’s Energy Mix
- Cambodia Solar Energy Profile: Cambodia Reaches a Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development Tipping Point
- Myanmar Solar: Lots of Potential, But a Cloudy Outlook for Solar Energy Development and Growth
- Vietnam Solar Profile: Energy, and an Economy, in Transition
- Indonesia: A Nation Rich in Unrealized Solar Energy Potential
- Malaysia Solar Energy Profile: A Global Solar Manufacturing Hub, Malaysia Cautiously Steps Up Efforts to Boost Growth, Liberalize Domestic Market
- Philippines Solar Energy Profile: Philippines Falls Far Short of Realizing Solar, Renewable Energy Potential
Click the link to download the PDF version of Singapore Solar Energy Profile. You can also view the file on SlideShare. Please note: If you would like to use any of the data or images, please give attribution to Solar Magazine.
How has HDB’s SolarNova programme fared, and why is this important?
Did you know about HDB’s SolarNova programme and how it powers common services (e.g. lifts, lights, water pumps) in HDB estates, with excess energy being channelled to the grid?
In this article, we look at how HDB’s SolarNova programme has fared since its inception, the benefits from it, and what other developments can do to avoid bill shocks from high gas and electricity costs.
What is the SolarNova programme?
As Singapore’s tropical landscape presents HDB with great potential to harness solar energy from rooftop spaces, HDBs are moving towards cleaner energy usage, including solar energy technology.
The SolarNova programme, led jointly by HDB and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), has plans to accelerate the deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Singapore. It is an integral part of the HDB Green Towns Programme (GTP) that aims to bring sustainable living to all existing HDB towns by 2030.
How has it fared?
Having already surpassed the previous solar target of 220 megawatt-peak (MWp), HDB has set another target to install a total capacity of 540 MWp by 2030.
This can potentially generate enough green energy to power the equivalent of 135,000 four-room HDB flats. HDB has just mentioned on Feb 25 that it is on track to meet the new target.
It has also called for the seventh solar leasing tender to install solar panels across 1,290 HDB blocks and 99 government sites.
What are the benefits of the SolarNova programme?
The main advantage of the SolarNova programme is that the residents’ block saves on electricity costs since the solar energy generated is used to power common areas, and excess solar energy is channelled to the grid.
This helps alleviate the costs of the block’s electricity bills, especially after an increase in electricity in Singapore due to soaring costs of gas and coal supply chain disruptions worldwide. over, amid the Ukraine-Russia tensions, petrol and electricity are increasing.
Some residents living in private estates have felt the strain of the surging electricity bills as they expect to fork out more for the maintenance of common areas, for example, in some condos in Singapore.
Hence, setting up solar energy infrastructure might be beneficial for these residents, and there are already upcoming projects with energy-powered common areas in condominiums.
For example, the upcoming Jervois Mansion project will have roof pavilions powering 30% of its shared facilities. CDL’s D’Nest, a condominium located in Pasir Ris, is also a noteworthy project that has set a record for the ‘largest solar panels in a condominium’; its panels generate about 5% of the condominium’s annual energy usage.
Another benefit is that this aids Singapore in reducing its carbon footprint by transiting to clean energy. The new target could generate 648 GWh of solar power annually, facilitating the transition to cleaner energy and helping to mitigate climate change.
What can other developments do to shift to solar energy?
To avoid bill shocks from increasing gas and electricity costs and play a part in the global fight on climate change, more can be done to maximise solar energy adoption in Singapore.
Individuals living in private estates can choose to make their homes eco-friendlier. One method is to switch to green electricity plans by electricity providers. Another technique is installing solar panels at home using their roof space (Check out other eco-friendly renovation options here).
With past, current, and future property projects involving solar energy, it seems that cleaner forms of energy, especially solar power, will become more commonplace, especially in the current climate of price pressures.
Moving forward, the government will continue to work with all stakeholders to maximise solar energy adoption in Singapore, including private residential estates and condominiums.
Solar AI Review: Rent solar panels for 5 or 10 years from this Singaporean company
You can now rent a solar panel system for your landed property in Singapore, and it’s simple and economically makes sense. We talked to the founder and CEO of Solar AI that started the service.
Solar AI Technology: Rent rooftop solar panels
Founded in early 2020. Solar Al Technology aims to make rooftop solar system adoption as simple, affordable and approachable across South-east Asia.
Solar energy, is the cheapest form of energy in our region, yet the take-up rate of rooftop solar energy in private residential properties is still slow. This is partly due to the perception that the technology is cumbersome and expensive to install and maintain.
In short, it’s just not worth it for average homeowners. But is it?
Solar AI’s latest service, the Rent-To-Own (RTO) scheme, begs to differ.
What was the impetus for the Rent to Own solar panel scheme?
Solar AI CEO Bolong Chew: The cost of the solar system has fallen nearly 90 per cent in the last decade, and solar energy is now the cheapest form of energy to power electricity.
But rooftop solar adoption in the region is still under one per cent, mainly because of its high upfront cost and a lack of trust and awareness.
A residential solar panel system in Singapore typically takes about six to eight years to break even before you can enjoy free solar electricity for its remaining 20 odd years. But it’s difficult for customers to see through that, and many are worried about high maintenance costs or managing the system in case of issues.
In the Rent-to-Own (RTO) model, we finance, install and maintain rooftop solar systems on behalf of our customers, providing them with a risk-free solar system in exchange for a fixed monthly fee.
This monthly fee is typically 50 to 100 lower than their electricity bill, giving them zero-risk, instant savings.
How do you pitch the RTO scheme to Singaporean homeowners?
Solar AI CEO Bolong Chew: The RTO scheme has three core benefits over purchasing a system outright:
- it has zero upfront cost
- provides instant savings
- Solar AI covers all maintenance and servicing
Being able to pay for solar monthly, just like how you pay for your regular electricity bills instead of footing a massive upfront fee of 20,000 to 50,000, makes the idea of adopting solar energy much less intimidating.
On top of that, we also provide a minimum energy guarantee on our solar systems.
We pay our customers for the difference if the system generates less energy than our projections, assuring them that well actively monitor and maintain their systems to generate the most electricity across our five- or 10-year plans.
Solar AI’s solar panel rental programme is only available for landed properties. Can HDB or condo owners rent solar panels in the future?
Solar AI CEO Bolong Chew: Since the most effective way to harness energy is to install solar panels on rooftops, our offerings are limited to property owners.
As for multi-residential apartments like condominiums, existing metering arrangements limit the ability to export and monetise excess electricity to the grid, reducing solar benefits to these property owners.
However, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and SP Group are actively looking into this, and we’re looking forward to extending our offers to these customers.
In public housing, HDB already has a national plan to solarise all viable HDBs over time through large-scale government tenders.
How do the solar panels look? And how should they be installed on my roof?
Solar AI CEO Bolong Chew: The aesthetics appeal will be somewhat subjective. In general. the panels are either dark blue or black in colour.
As long as it is placed neatly, a solar panel system can add a nice touch to the look of your house. Going green is a cool look these days too!
We’ve also had customers who highlighted the added benefits of reduced heat on their attic floors with solar panels as an additional layer of shade on their roofs.
The roof design is an essential factor to consider when it comes to energy yield because we are on the equator.
While the direction your solar panels face does not matter much, the inclination of the solar panels on your roof is extremely important.
For example, a 45-degree tilt compared to a 10-degree tilt can result in up to 20 per cent lower energy yield on your solar panels, as they receive less sunlight across all hours of the day.
How much money in electricity bills can we save with solar panels?
Solar AI CEO Bolong Chew: The savings depends on the size of the roof and, as consequentially, the size of the solar system.
However, our average landed home customer saves between 350 to 400 each month.
Our 10-year RTO plan has zero upfront cost, and customers only need to pay a flat monthly fee, which is almost always lower than their electricity bill savings.
But should a family opt for our five-year plan, there is an affordable down payment compared to the total upfront cost of the solar panel system, and then they can pay off the remaining amounts every month.
How much electricity does an average Singaporean home use?
Solar AI CEO Bolong Chew: The average HDB home consumes about 350 to 400 kWh each month, while landed homes consume about 1,200 kWh – these are statistics from EMA and SP Group.
However, we’ve seen our customers energy consumption range from 600 kWh for energy efficient landed homes to 5,000 kWh for some Good Class Bungalows (GCBs).
As a data science-focused company, we’ve also built an online solar simulator, allowing customers to find out their roof’s solar potential and compare this to their energy consumption to learn more about how much they can save.
To date, more than 3,000 landed homeowners in Singapore have used this solar assessment tool to get an instant estimate.
How many solar panels do I need for my landed home?
Solar AI CEO Bolong Chew: On average, our solar panel systems will offset about 70 to 80 per cent of our customers’ energy consumption.
So, if the average landed home consumes 1,200 kWh of energy per month, it would require about 50 square metres of available roof space for solar panels to offset their energy consumption.
It’s a common misconception that solar panels have to power your home entirely. The right way to think about solar panels is that they are an additional energy source – similarly connected to your home like the conventional electricity from the grid.
Whenever your home is consuming electricity, with solar panels in place, solar energy will first be used instead of drawing electricity from the grid. At night, you simply continue to draw power from the grid.
A solar energy surplus generated during the day will automatically flow back into the grid, and homeowners are compensated for this amount by the SP Group.
How many Singaporeans have converted to solar panels?
Solar AI CEO Bolong Chew: Our RTO model was soft-launched in July 2022 and officially in October.
Through the past months, we seen a 2.5 times increase in take-up rate for the RTO model compared to paying for solar panels upfront, giving us confidence that were solving a pain point for our customers.
We’ve signed up more than 30 customers since.
Are some areas in Singapore better for solar panels?
Solar AI CEO Bolong Chew: Singapore is a small nation, so weather patterns are generally quite similar across the island, so there isn’t a noticeable difference in different locations.
However, if you really want to go into the nitty gritty – the East and South of Singapore do have a slightly higher solar irradiance, which is a measure of the amount of sunlight over a period of time.
What are your hopes for the future?
Solar AI CEO Bolong Chew: We hope to continue sharing this RTO model with more property owners to help them switch to clean energy.
Our mission is to make it as simple as possible for all property owners to get a solar panel system. And a big part of doing this is providing accessible and affordable rooftop solar systems.
We are planning to expand this to the Philippines over the next two years and soon across the rest of SEA.
Electrical energy for HDB may come from floating solar panels in future
Can you afford solar panels on your house?
5 ways to save electricity and water at home
SHARE THIS ON
5-Room HDB BTO Renovation Cost: Five Reno ideas under 80,000 bud.
Bachelor Pad Interior Design: 2 Bachelors showcase their Toa Payo.
8 Best Interior Design Inspiration Websites: Unusual, unique inte.
12 Benefits of using Brass Copper hardware, decor at home!
What To Do In Genting Highlands: Hotels, outlet shopping, and mor.
10 Illegal HDB Renovations You Didn’t Know: Or get fined 5,000
SIM Hao Jie, Founder of Ministry of Hope Affairs: Next generation.
i Light Singapore: Nature light installations at 3 locations, fro.
Marina Bay Sands Rooms: Revamped suites and Smart hotel rooms (20.
HDB Defect Check (2023): Why are there so many defects these days.
Public Hotel New York City: Sophisticated minimalist hotel famous.
Hangzhou art centre’s actual interiors are more beautiful than AI.
Solar Panels in Tengah HDB Town, Singapore
SP Group operates large-scale rooftop solar panel systems and will deploy conventional and vertical solar panels for a Singapore HDB town, Tengah, contributing to the nation’s goal to achieve 2 gigawatt-peak solar capacity by 2030. The solar energy generated in Tengah will be used to power Centralised Cooling, coupled with renewable energy from other sources in Singapore. Residents can play a part in mitigating climate change by subscribing to Centralised Cooling.
An eco-town where you can enjoy sustainable living with Centralised Cooling, EV charging and solar energy.
Helping Singapore Mitigate Climate Change
SP is deploying both conventional and vertical solar panels (known as building-integrated photovoltaics, BIPV) in Tengah. Tengah will likely have the largest aggregated installation of BIPV in Singapore when fully developed.
Renewable energy from the solar panels is used to offset energy consumption, resulting in annual energy savings of 5,178MWh for Tengah.
Carbon Emissions Reduced
Based on energy savings of 5,178MWh for Tengah, the annual carbon emissions reduced, 2,115 tonCO2 is equivalent to carbon absorbed by 105,757 trees for one year
To find out more about SP’s solar solutions, click here.
Based on local study done by Building System Diagnostics (2021), Tengah Town.
We would love to hear from you. If you have any questions, write to us at email@example.com