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Singapore scales up floating solar PV ambitions

FLOATING photovoltaic (PV) solar panels on reservoirs could become a more common sight in Singapore, with the national water agency exploring the idea of installing full-scale systems of such panels in the Tengeh and Upper Peirce reservoirs.

PUB announced on Friday that the test-bed launched in Tengeh last October had performed well: The cooler temperature of the reservoir environment helped the one megawatt-peak (MWp) test-bed to perform better than typical rooftop solar PV systems, it said.

There were also no observable changes in water quality or significant impact on wildlife, ongoing studies have found.

PUB is therefore calling for tenders to build a 50 MWp floating solar PV system in Tengeh - this could power about 12,500 four-room HDB flats - and a 6.7 MWp system in Upper Peirce, which could feed energy to the nearby Chestnut Avenue Waterworks for its operations, thus reducing its reliance on grid energy.

PUB added that it will carry out comprehensive environmental studies, including developing environmentally sensitive designs and construction processes, at the two reservoirs before making a decision on the implementation.

Eventually, solar panels could occupy about 2 per cent of the water surface at Upper Peirce Reservoir, and one-third of that at Tengeh Reservoir, it said.

Solar PV energy has been identified as the only renewable energy source with potential in Singapore, but its scale has been limited by space constraints on rooftops.

In June, the government set a new target of raising the adoption of solar power here to 1 gigawatt peak after 2020. As at the end of the first quarter of this year, the country had 129.8 MWp of installed solar capacity, nearly four times the installed capacity in 2014.

Meanwhile, solar developers in Singapore are rolling out new products to make solar systems more accessible to consumers and companies.

SolarPVExchange, a subsidiary of clean-energy provider Sunseap Group, on Friday announced its launch of a pilot hire-purchase scheme for residential and commercial clients who want to install solar panels at their premises.

Under this scheme, which goes on trial in October, clients pay for solar panels and their installation by regular instalments for periods of up to five years.

A typical solar PV system costs S$50,000 to S$150,000 to purchase and install for landed property owners, and between S$300,000 and S$1.5 million for commercial premises, said SolarPVExchange.

Its managing director Rob Khoo said: "This instalment plan was designed in response to customers' demand. Lately, we have received a growing number of requests from both individuals and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) who plan to go green but prefer not to have to pay a large lump sum upfront."

The offer is available only to the first 20 landed residential and commercial customers who are not existing clients of SolarPVExchange.