Singapore, a resource poor island nation smaller than metropolitan New York City, is highly vulnerable to the effects of carbon induced climate change. To this end, Singapore signed the Paris Climate Accords committing to reduce its emissions by 16 percent in 2020, emissions intensity by 36 percent from 2005 levels in 2030 and stabilise its peak emissions by 2030. Besides reducing its carbon emissions, Singapore seeks to amplify its impact by being a regional energy transformation role model.
Singapore’s energy sector accounts for 39 percent of its carbon emissions. Since 2005, Singapore has reduced its carbon emissions and energy intensity significantly by converting its fuel stock from petrochemicals to natural gas, introducing a solar energy market and optimising its waste to energy infrastructure. Today, natural gas provides 95 percent of Singapore’s energy needs with waste to energy and solar each contributing roughly 2 percent. The challenge is to reduce the market share of natural gas with growth in renewables. Singapore has long known that the fastest way to reduce its reliance on natural gas is to increase its solar capacity significantly, but new solutions tailored to its unique circumstances were needed. Singapore found its answer in floating solar.
Singapore’s goal is to have at least 1 GW of installed solar capacity by mid-2020’s. Singapore’s small size (720 square kilometres) and 100 percent urbanisation rate mean that land is not only scarce, it is also extremely expensive. In 2018, solar installed on high-rises and commercial buildings yielded 208 MW; enough to power about 40,000 homes. To remove the high cost of land from the equation, Singapore is deploying solar on its reservoirs and territorial ocean waters. In 2016, Singapore launched the world’s largest floating solar test bed (1ha) to study floating solar’s feasibility and commercialisation possibilities.
Reservoirs – In July 2019, Singapore’s Public Utilities board (PUB) announced plans to install a massive floating solar field on Tengeh Reservoir. At 50MW it will be one of the world’s largest floating solar projects, Singapore’s first utility scale solar project, and South East Asia’s first utility scale open tender solar project. A portion of production will power the reservoir’s water treatment facility and the rest will service Singapore’s power grid. Powering the Tengah’s water treatment plant with floating solar reduces Singapore’s carbon output by 28,000 tonnes. A much larger 100MW floating solar project is being considered for Singapore’s Kranji reservoir which would reduce carbon emissions by another 52,000 tonnes.
Open ocean – Last November, Singapore’s Economic Development Board announced plans for a 6.4MW floating solar field on the nation’s northern shores along the Straits of Johor. This project, scheduled for completion in late 2020, will be one of the largest ocean based floating solar fields in the world and will reduce carbon emissions by 2,400 tonnes. If successful, this project will lead the way in developing large areas of Singapore’s near shore ocean waters for solar harvesting.
Singapore is actively seeking to deploy an additional 750MW of floating solar capacity in the near future to meet its 1GW goal. Singapore’s ambition in the medium/long term is to reduce its use of natural gas up to 40 percent by replacing it with solar. This equals approximately 3GW of new capacity yielding a carbon emissions reduction of about 1.6M tonnes. Taking into consideration floating solar’s ongoing exponential rise in globally installed capacity (10MW in 2014 to 1.1GW in mid 2018) and the value proposition that floating solar affords to South East Asia’s thousands and thousands of island communities, it is easy to see why Singapore is a premier place to grow your solar enterprise.
Utility scale floating solar project opportunities in Singapore will continue to grow throughout the coming decade. Companies that develop successful solar projects in Singapore will be in an excellent position to extend their products to other much larger Asian markets. Companies of new floating solar innovations, from storage systems to floatation devices, are in high demand making market entry and business development easier for foreign start-ups. Small and medium enterprises and major industry players in the solar sector are encouraged to participate in Singapore’s solar energy transformation through the Access Cities programme. Singapore based solar challenges and developments will be announced and presented with relevant information on our Access Cities homepage. Stay tuned by subscribing to our Access Cities newsletter for the latest on all open challenges and events from our Access Cites members.
For more information on the opportunities in Singapore through the Access Cities project contact: Quercus Group