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Singapore’s solar aim laudable, but here are some things to watch out for

The Government’s aim to produce at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar energy by 2030 is an ambitious one, given the current solar capacity of 260 MWp and the earlier target of achieving 350 MWp by 2020 under the Solar Nova programme.

Singapore’s solar aim laudable, but here are some things to watch out for
Joe Ng Boon Leng

I refer to the new reports “Singapore to ramp up solar energy production, with 1 in 2 HDB rooftops having solar panels by 2020” (Oct 29) and “New solar targets ‘good start’, but unlikely to have significant impact, says experts” (Oct 30).

The Government’s aim to produce at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar energy by 2030 is an ambitious one, given the current solar capacity of 260 MWp and the earlier target of achieving 350 MWp by 2020 under the Solar Nova programme.

I support the move towards greater use of renewable energy and making it a key source of power here. This will go some way towards saving our planet.

Solar panel innovation has grown in the last decade, resulting in a sharp drop in the costs of photovoltaic cells.

But I wonder why in the latest Solar Nova tender, the authorities are asking for a minimum module efficiency — the rate of conversion of sunshine hitting a panel into electricity — of between 11 and 16 per cent.

This is well below what the market can achieve today, with many companies capable of 18 per cent or more in module efficiency.

As solar innovation is developing rapidly, government tender requirements should keep pace with such developments.  

It is also useful to bear in mind that the solar industry is a highly competitive one, as seen by the closing down of several companies in recent years and the bankruptcies of Germany’s Phoenix Solar and Solarworld.

I would urge the authorities here to carefully consider the financial standing of companies to which it awards tenders to install solar power here, given solar panels typically have to last 25 years.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

Related topics

solar energy HDB power renewable energy

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