Our nation is making big plans to harness more power from the sun. Here’s the lowdown on how we’re gearing up for solar.
As the Earth continues to experience climate change, countries all across the globe are ramping up their efforts to employ cleaner energy sources.
Singapore is no different, having taken measures that date back to the early 2000s, and numerous plans for the future. Out of the myriad non-fossil fuel energy sources, solar energy will become one of the Lion City’s most important renewable options in the future (proving that not only Superman can harness the power of the sun).
Read on for the scoop on why solar power is the most promising source of renewable energy for our sunny island, the various projects and goals that have been undertaken, and ways that you can be a game changer in the fight for our environment.
Why solar power for Singapore?
While Singapore is certainly a global and regional economic powerhouse, our little sparkplug of an island does have its limitations.
According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Singapore is an “alternative energy-disadvantaged” country. As a nation, we do not have the necessary means to utilise certain non-fossil alternatives like wind energy, hydroelectricity or geothermal energy, making solar energy (and human ingenuity!) our best bet.
However, there are certain limitations to using the sun as an energy source. Our Little Red Dot has limited land space for the deployment of solar panels, and with monsoon season being a constant here, issues like thick cloud cover and high humidity may be a hindrance.
How are we planning to overcome these hurdles?
Despite these limitations, solar energy will play a vital role in Singapore’s evolving energy story, and is one of the four switches we’ll be relying on as we move towards the future, alongside natural gas, regional power grids and emerging low-carbon energy alternatives like carbon capture.
Here are some ways that solar energy will be deployed in the near future.
a) Amping up the numbers
By 2030, our nation aims to deploy 2-gigawatt peak (maximum converted energy) of solar energy, a significant increase from our current target of 350-megawatt peak by 2020. This will meet about 10% of the electricity needs that we have today.
Fun fact: Since 2010, solar installations have increased by a hundredfold, from 30 to over 3000.
b) Getting creative with rooftops
While space in Singapore is certainly a constraint, there’re no limits to human ingenuity. By 2020, half of Singapore’s HDB blocks will have solar panels deployed on their rooftops, allowing us to overcome the problem of land scarcity.
Other establishments that will see the deployment of solar panels include schools, carparks and government buildings.
c) Storing the power of the sun
Investing in research and development on energy storage and increasing storage targets to 200 megawatts in 2025 and beyond may help to overcome the problem of intermittent sunshine during cloudy days and rainy seasons.
d) Floating solar panels
Our reservoirs are an important source of water for Singapore, but did you know that they’ll soon be a source of solar energy as well?
Floating solar photovoltaic systems will be deployed at Bedok, Lower Seletar, and Tengeh Reservoirs. In particular, Tengeh Reservoir will house one of the world’s largest single floating solar systems , with a capacity of 60-megawatt peak . The system is expected to generate enough energy to power about 16,000 four-room HDB flats. This will reduce around 32 kilotonnes carbon emissions annually, equivalent to removing 7,000 cars off our roads.
Game for change—Saving energy, saving our planet
While Singapore gears up for solar powered energy sources and looks to the future, there’s a lot that you can do charge up your game plans and be a warrior for Mother Nature. Here’s a list of quick, handy tips that will help you to save energy at home, work and play.
1. Charge your phone when you’re awake
There’s no need to keep your smartphone constantly connected to a power source, and leaving electronics plugged in cause a constant drain on energy. In fact, keeping your phone plugged in when fully charged will lower its battery life. Utilise this tip and you’ll make power banks a thing of the past!
2. Set your AC to 25 degrees Celsius
You’ll save lots of money over the long run, and save the earth as well! Or even better, you can beat the heat with a fan, instead of an aircon. For comparison, within an hour, an aircon uses between 700 to 3,500 watts, while a fan uses much less, at around 10 to 120 watts.
3. Air-dry your clothes
While it’s not always possible, let Mother Nature dry your clothes if you’re not in a hurry to get them into your wardrobe. Singapore’s hot, sunny climate is great for air-drying your clothes.
4. Turn off your computer when leaving the office
Even on screensaver or hibernate mode, your office computer will use up a substantial amount of energy. Remember—Your electronics need to power down, just like you!
5. Bask in natural lighting
We’re not vampires that sparkle in the sunlight, so there’s no need to keep those curtains drawn at home on sunny days.
6. Replace incandescent bulbs with IED lights
An LED light consumes up to 75% less energy, while lasting 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
7. Move your fridge further away from the wall
This sounds improbable, but moving your refrigerator just a few centimetres away from the wall can help you save on electricity bills. The condensers at the back of your fridge need space to work, and moving your fridge just a few centimetres may save you up to 40% of your fridge’s energy use.
8. Use cold water to wash your clothes
About 90% of the energy used by your washing machine goes towards heating the water. Wash your laundry cold and you’ll save on money and get to preserve the colour of darker fabrics.