Renewable energy can meet 10% of power demand without govt subsidies: SEAS

singapore solar
Solar energy, biomass and biogas are key renewable energy sources identified as sustainable alternatives to Singapore's growing energy needs. Image:

Renewable energy sources can generate up to 10 per cent of Singapore’s power demand by 2020, compared to less than 1 per cent today.

According to a white paper released by the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS), this potential can be achieved without government subsidies but requires an estimated S$4 billion investment from the private sector over the next 12 years.

The association currently has more than 160 members and represents the interests of companies in the sustainable energy industry and other related stakeholders.

Solar energy, biomass and biogas are key renewable energy sources identified as sustainable alternatives to Singapore’s growing energy needs.

According to the white paper, solar photovolatics is expected to generate some 4.8 per cent of the nation’s 2025 forecasted power needs, while biogas and biomass will contribute to some 2 per cent of the demand.

The white paper suggests that companies invest in adopting the use of such renewable sources,which industry experts say are economically viable.

Edwin Khew, chairman of SEAS, said: “These systems will actually last you for at least 20 to 25 years. So anything beyond four to five years, basically, is where you start getting all your investment back, so you actually make money from the system, so it’s extremely viable right now.

“The important thing to note is the cost of energy will continue to increase if you import oil or gas — it will not, within the future, come down in price. If anything, it will go up.

“So once you have a solar system, the sun is always there… it’s free.”

But the study said the energy market mechanism first needs to be revised, so that businesses can supply any excess renewable energy they generate to the power grid and even reap the returns on their investment.

Christophe Inglin, managing director of Phoenix Solar and chairman of the white paper committee, said: “Building owners see this as a way of saving money — they put solar power on their roof.

“You get some industries which have a lot of waste, biowaste which they can then turn into biogas and generate their own electricity. But that’s just the start of it.

“So take this to a bigger scale, we’d like to be able to go to bigger projects, and feed (renewable energy) not just into their building, but take this to the grid to sell to third party customers.”

The association will be sharing its white paper findings with the Energy Market Authority, which released its own consultation paper in October on simplifying the regulatory framework for intermittent generation sources.

Both are also working closely with research organisations Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) and A*STAR’s Experimental Power Grid Centre (EPGC) to find solutions to manage intermittent supply in renewable energy sources.

Just last month, during Singapore International Energy Week , Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office S Iswaran said renewable energy can contribute more to Singapore’s energy mix.

He announced that the cap for intermittent sources supplying electricity to the grid has been raised from 350 mega-watt peak to 600 mega-watt peak. 

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