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PUB to extend floating solar panel trials at reservoirs

SINGAPORE — The national water agency is expanding its trials to test the feasibility of deploying floating solar energy panels on reservoirs, following the successful roll-out of the world’s largest floating solar test-bed at Tengeh Reservoir last year.


SINGAPORE — The national water agency is expanding its trials to test the feasibility of deploying floating solar energy panels on reservoirs, following the successful roll-out of the world’s largest floating solar test-bed at Tengeh Reservoir last year.


On Friday (Sept 29), the PUB called for tenders for engineering and environmental studies for a 50 megawatt peak (MWp) floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system in Tengeh Reservoir and a 6.7MWp floating solar PV system in Upper Peirce Reservoir.


The proposed Tengeh system could potentially take up one-third of the reservoir’s water surface area, and power up to 12,500 four-room Housing and Development Board homes.

The Upper Peirce system is estimated to occupy about 2 per cent of the reservoir’s water surface area, and can power about 1,500 four-room flats.


Last October, Tengeh Reservoir became the world’s largest floating solar test-bed atop a hectare of waters. The S$11 million pilot of 10 PV systems at the reservoir was enough to power 250 four-room HDB flats for a year.


On Friday, the PUB said the results of the test-bed so far “show that the system performed better than a typical rooftop solar PV system in Singapore, due to the cooler temperatures of the reservoir environment”.


It added that to date, there were also “no observable changes in water quality in the reservoir and no significant impact on wildlife from ongoing studies on water quality and biodiversity”, hence it plans to further explore floating solar PV systems at two more locations.


Upper Peirce Reservoir was chosen as a potential location due to its close proximity to the Chestnut Avenue Waterworks, which will allow the solar energy generated to be fed directly to the Waterworks for its water treatment operations, helping it reduce its reliance on grid energy, said the PUB.


The PUB said it would be carrying out comprehensive environmental studies at the two reservoirs before making any decision on implementation. 


It has also consulted environmental groups such as Nature Society of Singapore on the scope of the environmental studies, and will continue to consult relevant groups as the projects develop.
It added that there will be no infringement on forested areas. 


While most solar PV panels are deployed on land or rooftops, waterbodies with significant surface areas present greater potential especially in land-scarce countries like Singapore, explained the PUB. 


PUB’s chief sustainability officer Tan Nguan Sen said: “The natural option is our vast water surface but we want to study the possible impact and relevant mitigating measures very carefully before reaching a decision to proceed with large-scale floating solar PV deployment.” 


The Republic invested over S$30 million in alternative energy tests in 2016. Besides the test-bed at Tengeh Rerservoir, a micro-grid system — which consolidates power generated from multiple renewable energy sources — was also tested at Semakau Island.

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