• Published Date: 05 Jun 2015

          Today, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) called the first solar leasing tender consolidating demand across multiple government agencies for installation of solar panels. This solar tender at a capacity of 40 MWp1. is the largest to date in both the public and private sectors in Singapore, and will see solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed at eight Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and PUB sites; and an estimated 900 HDB blocks located across the island.


    1  Combined capacity is 40 MW peak (MWp), of which HDB will take up 32.14 MWp, MHA 6.73 MWp and PUB 1.13 MWp.


    2       For MHA, the solar PV systems will be installed at Tuas Checkpoint, Woodlands Checkpoint, Home Team Academy, Airport Police Division and MHA-HQ at Phoenix Park. For PUB, the national water agency, the installation of solar PV systems will be at Changi Water Reclamation Plant, Bedok Waterworks and WaterHub. The multi-agency solar leasing tender will close on 14 August 2015, and is estimated to be awarded in 4Q2015. The installation is expected to complete in end 2017.


    3       The tender is called under the government-led solar lead demand programme, called SolarNova, which is spearheaded by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). Under this programme, EDB encourages government agencies to come together to harness solar energy to power their activities, which will in turn spur the growth of the solar industry in Singapore. This is the first tender to be launched under the programme, which aims to have solar power contribute 350 MWp to Singapore’s system by 2020. More tenders under SolarNova will be called over the next 4 to 5 years.


    4       Through HDB acting as the government’s central procurement agency for solar panels, SolarNova will enable agencies with smaller solar PV demand to benefit from economies of scale and enjoy solar energy at a lower cost. After the award of the tender, the individual government agencies will oversee the installation of the solar PV panels for their buildings.


    5       Based on the current sustainable business model of solar leasing, HDB (and other agencies taking part in the bulk tender) need not fund any portion of the upfront cost for such solar projects. The user parties managing the respective government buildings and HDB blocks will enter into a power purchase agreement with the private sector developer to pay for the solar power consumed, at a preferential rate that will not go beyond the retail electricity tariff rate.


    Singapore’s Solar Industry


    6       The development of the local solar industry is evident through the growing participation from companies in HDB’s past solar leasing tenders. When HDB called the first solar leasing tender in 2011, there were only three company bidders. The most recent solar leasing tender awarded last year saw seven bidders. As the scale and capabilities in the local solar industry grow, the implementation of solar technology on a larger scale has become more cost-effective.


    7       The increasing competitiveness of Singapore’s solar sector has also resulted in escalating private sector adoption, one recent example being Jurong Port’s 10 MWp rooftop PV system. Overall, solar energy has become a commercially-viable source of clean and sustainable energy for Singapore, especially for larger installations which enjoy economies of scale.


    8       “SolarNova is a game-changing programme to aggregate and catalyse solar lead demand in Singapore, so as to build capabilities in our solar industry. The escalating adoption of commercially viable solar energy in Singapore will also generate new innovation opportunities around smart grids and energy management. This initiative will strengthen Singapore’s position as the leading clean energy hub in the region,” said Mr Goh Chee Kiong, Executive Director, Cleantech, EDB.


    Harnessing Solar Energy in HDB Estates


    9       HDB’s efforts in building solar capabilities have also seen encouraging progress. Currently, about 55 MWp has been procured by HDB (excluding the 40MWp tender called today). By the end of June 2015, about 250 HDB blocks islandwide would be installed with solar panels, while installation works are in progress for another 772 blocks. With this latest tender covering another 900 HDB blocks, a total of close to 2,000 HDB blocks will be ready to harness solar energy.


    10       HDB will continue to test the various types of solar PV technology, to determine the most suitable and efficient technology to be used in Singapore’s climate conditions. For instance, HDB is testing Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) solar PV technology, which is designed to capture diffused sunlight better than conventional silicon-based panels. Given Singapore’s climatic conditions (cloudy with substantial sunlight all year round), HDB is exploring whether CIGS solar PV panels would perform better. The CIGS panels are currently installed at a small number of HDB blocks. HDB will evaluate the suitability of the CIGS technology in Singapore’s context and assess the feasibility of future implementation of this technology at more sites.


    A CIGS solar PV installation being tested at an HDB residential block in Choa Chu Kang. Conventional silicon-based solar panels found in Jurong East.