Singapore goes big on solar with largest tender to date

The call for 40 MWp of PV capacity to be installed at close to a thousand buildings will give a fillip to clean energy adoption in the city, which aims to have solar power contribute 350 MWp to its system by 2020.

Singapore has launched the country’s largest solar project to date, which will involve the installation of solar panels at eight government sites and 900 public-housing blocks across the island. 

The city’s public housing agency, Housing & Development Board (HDB), on Friday launched the largest ever public-led solar leasing tender, which will see 40 MWp (Megawatt peak) installed by 2017 at sites belonging to the Ministry of Home Affairs and national water agency PUB as well as housing blocks.

The advantage of the solar leasing model is that it allows the HDB and other agencies in the tender to purchase the solar power at a preferential rate that will not go beyond the retail electricity tariff rate, and without forking up any upfront installation costs.

The tender was launched under a nationwide initiative called the SolarNova programme and led by the Economic Development Board (EDB).

The aim of the SolarNova programme is to encourage Singapore’s government agencies to use solar energy to power their buildings, which will in turn spur the growth of the solar industry in the country, the statement said.

This is the first tender to be launched under the programme, which aims to have solar power contribute 350 MWp to Singapore’s system by 2020, said the HDB and EDB in a joint statement.

Singapore’s solar industry has been growing steadily over the past few years, thanks to a drop in the prices of solar panels and the government’s policy to actively encourage the use of solar power as a cleaner energy source.

There were only three bidders when HDB called the first solar leasing tender; the most recent solar leasing tender awarded last year saw seven bidders, the statement said.

 It added that solar energy has become a viable source of clean and sustainable energy for Singapore, especially for larger installations which enjoy economies of scale.

But the city still generates 95 per cent of its power from natural gas and has only 25 to 30 megawatt-peak (MWp) of photovoltaic capacity installed. Massive investment is therefore needed for Singapore to meet its solar-power target.

The SolarNova programme is also a catalyst for solar demand in Singapore, and aims to help build capabilities in Singapore’s solar industry, said Mr Goh Chee Kiong, executive director of Cleantech, EDB.

“The escalating adoption of commercially viable solar energy in Singapore will also generate new innovation opportunities around smart grids and energy management. This initiative will strengthen Singapore’s position as the leading clean energy hub in the region,” Goh added.

This tender will close on 14 August, and will be awarded by the fourth quarter of the year, with installation completed at the end of 2017.

More tenders under SolarNova will be called over the next four to five years. 

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