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Audrey Tan
Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014

Singapore

S'pore can tap more solar power by 2050

The Straits Times | Audrey Tan | Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014

Solar panels on the top of HDB buildings at Punggol.

SINGAPORE - The sun could supply almost a third of Singapore's electricity, up from less than two per cent now, by 2050.

If predictions made by researchers from the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (Seris) come to pass, it may mean lower electricity bills and fewer carbon dioxide emissions.

It could also increase the island's energy supply security and reduce uncertainties about cost.

Singapore has no energy resources and depends on imports to support its energy needs.

Currently, the Republic gets more than 80 per cent of its electricity from natural gas and about 18 per cent from fuel oil.

The rest comes from other sources, including waste incineration.

The potential of solar energy and photovoltaic technology - which enables the conversion of sunlight into electricity - was detailed in a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Roadmap for Singapore, which was unveiled last month.

Experts said the 30 per cent target is possible but added that it depends on whether certain conditions are met.

For one thing, Singapore must control its electricity demand. In 2012, the country consumed 42.6 terawatt-hours (TWh). By 2050, this cannot exceed 50 TWh, based on the assumption of the road map.

This is not easy. Singapore's population is predicted to grow, meaning electricity usage would surge as well.

In June last year, Singapore's population stood at 5.4 million but this has been projected to reach 6.9 million by 2030.

Maintaining electricity demand will be challenging but possible, said Seris deputy chief executive Thomas Reindl. He cited how Germany's energy efficiency measures have resulted in falling electricity consumption.

Said Dr Reindl: "It would be a great opportunity for Singapore to try to achieve future population and economic growth in an energy-neutral and carbon-neutral way."

Experts said this could be achieved through policy or pricing, such as by imposing higher electricity tariffs or giving incentives for energy savings.

Air-conditioning is one area where consumption can be slashed substantially, they said.

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