Singapore plans to invest more on solar power

The use of solar power in Singapore is composed for a dramatic increase.

A roadmap on solar energy launched in July forecasts the use of solar power subjected to certain conditions to jump by 200 per cent by 2050.

However, experts and stakeholders are of the view that several topics need to be tackled before this transformation happens.

At first, Singapore needs upgraded, accurate forecasting method as solar PV systems that produce electricity directly from sunlight become more common.

Currently, the forecasting software has an error margin of about 30 per cent when forecasting weather up to 15 minutes in advance.

Today, solar contributes only a small amount of electricity, so the weather does not play a role. In the future, when hundreds of megawatts of PV systems deployed, the weather becomes a significant factor, said, Andre Nobre, research associate, Solar Energy Systems Cluster, SERIS.

In addition, the power grid needs to be updated for incorporating various functions.

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When nobody is at home and the solar panel is producing electricity, it either gets stored and controlled in a smart manner or it is pumped back into the grid and that amount pumped is recorded by a smart meter. In the evening, when the solar cells are not contributing to supplying power, they can actually drop out from the grid. So the simple meter being able to measure two-way flow of power is already a level of smartness, explained, Low Teck Seng, CEO, National Research Foundation.

At present, the solar power contribution is only 0.1 percent. Operators of some energy-intensive industrial facilities are keen to explore installing solar panels on a larger scale.

There are concerns like when solar panels do not produce enough energy, and companies have to look to the power grid to ramp up supply and if this exceeds a limited amount, companies have to pay a hefty sum.

Another issue raised is energy demands fluctuate for some companies, and solar panels are costly to set up. It takes years before companies can reap the benefits of their investments. Selling excess energy back to the power grid would allow them to recover some of their financial investments, but they face challenges in doing so.

Removing some of these discouragements would be better for companies to put more power generating facilities because energy cost is huge. So anything that would generate electricity without being too clumsy will be an advantage to companies. said, George Lam, director, Operations Excellence & Sustainability, GlaxoSmithKline.

The Energy Market Authority is working with Singapore Power to simplify processes further, simplifying licensing requirements and the registration process.

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