Singapore wants to generate enough solar energy for 350,000 households annually by 2030 – here’s how it plans to do that

Solar panels on the roof of a bus stop along Jurong Gateway Road.
The Straits Times

Singapore has moved from oil to natural gas for cleaner power generation in the past 50 years, but Singapore’s energy use now needs to be even cleaner for the sake of future generations.

Calling climate change a “challenge that requires us to change the way we use and produce energy”, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 29) that Singapore’s energy sector will need to evolve to remain clean and efficient.

Minister for Trade & Industry Chan Chun Sing announced at the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2019 on the same day that Singapore will harness “4 Switches” as part of its energy transformation plan.

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Currently, about 95 per cent of Singapore’s electricity is generated using natural gas, which is considered the cleanest fossil fuel at the moment.

But while natural gas will continue to be a dominant fuel for Singapore in the near future, the nation will also scale up its three other “switches” so it becomes less reliant on natural gas, EMA said. The Government will also help generation companies improve the efficiency of their power plants, it added.

The sun will provide enough power for 350,000 households a year

The second switch is solar energy, which EMA says is “Singapore’s most promising renewable energy source”. The authority added that the Republic is on track to reaching its solar target of 350 megawatt-peak (MWp) by 2020, and will set a new target of at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) by 2030.

This is enough to meet the annual power needs of around 350,000 households in Singapore, and according to The Straits Times, is about 4 per cent of Singapore’s total electricity demand today. It will require an eight times increase in solar adoption from today’s capacity.

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To this end, Singapore will deploy and maximise solar panels over available spaces, including rooftops, reservoirs and offshore spaces. “Besides increasing our clean energy supply, solar will improve energy security by tapping on alternative energy sources,” EMA said.

In addition, Singapore has set an energy storage deployment target of 200 MW beyond 2025. To achieve this, the authority will work with the industry and agencies to support a large-scale, nationwide deployment of Energy Storage Systems (ESS).

As solar energy can be affected by weather conditions, energy storage helps to address solar intermittency and enhance grid resilience by managing mismatches between electricity supply and demand, EMA said.

Regional power grids and low-carbon alternatives

The third switch is the use of regional power grids, which EMA says can be explored for cost-competitive energy via bilateral cooperation or regional initiatives.

Lastly, emerging low-carbon alternatives – such as carbon capture, utilisation or storage technologies and hydrogen – will also be studied to see how they can help reduce Singapore’s carbon footprint.

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Chan also said that “the holy grail for everyone today is nuclear fusion, not nuclear fission”, but added that it will take “many more years to mature fusion technology before it can be commercialised”.

“But we will never give up the search for alternative energy sources to complement the three Switches that we already have,” he said.

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