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HDB plans to increase solar capacity to power more flats

(Photo: ST File)

Leading the charge to generate more clean energy in Singapore, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) plans to more than double its capacity for solar power by 2030.

Its new target announced on Monday (Dec 30) means that over the next 10 years, it will have a solar capacity that is equivalent to powering about 135,000 four-room flats with clean energy.

The HDB remains the biggest driver of Singapore's solar push, with the Republic having pledged to ramp up its clean energy generation and cut back its carbon emissions as part of global efforts to fight climate change.

These remain on track, with the HDB already having exceeded its previous target of 220 megawatt-peak (MWp) by 2020 - the equivalent of powering 55,000 four-room flats.

The new targets significantly raise the bar for both the HDB and Singapore, and will involve installing solar panels across more HDB blocks. The efforts are being aided by advances in technology which allow more solar energy to be generated from the same amount of space on HDB rooftops.

HDB's new target of 540 megawatt-peak (MWp) by 2030 can reduce carbon emissions by 324,000 tonnes per year. As part of its wider clean energy drive, Singapore has pledged to ramp up its overall solar capacity to at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) by 2030.

In a major step towards achieving such targets, the HDB has launched a tender to install solar panels across 1,154 HDB blocks and 46 government sites such as schools.

The latest tender will reap 60 MWp of solar energy islandwide.

It comes under the HDB and Economic Development Board (EDB)'s SolarNova programme, which was launched in 2014 to compile solar demand from various agencies to enjoy economies of scale.

Six agencies are participating in this tender. They include the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), who are participating for the first time.

The tender will close on March 2, 2020 and is targeted to be award in the third quarter of 2020.

The installation of the solar photovoltaic (PV) systems is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2023.

The previous tender, the fourth of such contract, was awarded to local clean energy firm Sunseap. It involved 1,218 HDB blocks and 49 government sites. Sunseap also won the first tender in 2015, involving about 800 HDB blocks.

As of this month, about 2,060 HDB blocks have been fitted with solar panels and installation at another 2,500 blocks or so is in progress.

The solar energy harness is used to power common services such as lifts, lights and water pumps.

On average, these HDB blocks are able to achieve net-zero energy consumption in the common areas, which means the building produces more energy than it consumes.

Excess solar energy is channelled back to Singapore's electrical grid.

HDB aims to install solar panels on about 10,000 blocks, where feasible.

Since the SolarNova programme started in 2014, it has expanded into using more efficient solar panels, which can convert around 20 per cent of sunlight into electricity, compared to the previous 16 per cent. This has enabled previously unsuitable rooftop spaces such as point blocks and partially shaded areas to now be installed with solar panels.

HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean said: "We will continue to amplify our solar efforts as our nation pushes towards its next milestone to generate more clean energy and help combat climate change."

Written by Michelle Ng for The Straits Times.

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