Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Solar test bed scheme on wider scale by 2015

SOLAR panels will be fitted on the roofs of residential blocks and multi-storey carparks in 30 HDB precincts by 2015 in the largest solar trial rolled out here.

The $31 million trial will provide 3.1 megawatts peak of solar capacity in 28 existing HDB precincts and two new ones.

HDB is testing solar technology in preparation for greater use when the cost of it is closer to that of energy from traditional sources.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said industry players expect to see returns from investments in solar technology in five to eight years.

But there are systemic issues involved in harnessing solar energy, he pointed out. 'It's not just about the cells being able to convert solar energy into electrical energy. Even if you're able to do that, after that, how does that integrate with your energy system, your electricity grid - those are important issues too.'

Last August, HDB installed rooftop solar panels on blocks in Serangoon North Avenue 3 and Wellington Circle, as part of the Energy Save Programme it is working on with the National Environment Agency and Energy Market Authority. Results so far show the panels installed on seven residential blocks and one multi-storey carpark in each precinct can generate about 220 kilowatt hours a day - enough to meet the common services power requirements in a single block.

HDB's first eco-friendly public housing development, Treelodge@Punggol, is designed to incorporate rooftop solar panels that are expected to generate enough energy to meet 40 per cent of the precinct's common services requirements. HDB said testing on a wide scale of 30 precincts will enable it to better assess the feasibility of different solar technologies in Singapore's environment, and gather technical knowledge on their installation and maintenance.

HDB also expects the programme to encourage global manufacturers to set up base in Singapore for R&D on solar panel technologies, which will help to drive down the cost of the panels.

Last year the government set aside $20 million for its Solar Capability Scheme to encourage the installation of solar technology in new building projects.

Source: Business Times, 28 April 2009

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