Finding a green alternative to fossil fuels can never get this tough for Singapore – we can’t use wind turbines due to our low wind speeds; hydropower plants are not feasible as we don’t have fast-flowing rivers; our calm seas say no to tidal power generation; and our city is so highly populated that the risks outweigh the benefits of nuclear power, just to name a few.
But all hope isn’t lost.
Government Is Determined
In recent years, our sunny island is placing a serious bet on solar power.
Singapore Energy Statistics 2015 has reported an exponential increase in solar panel installations, with over 600 installed by end 2014.
Notably, it was reported that these 600 installations alone can power all public housing blocks across Novena. This capacity will have a threefold increase next year, and fourteen-fold in the next four to five years, which is currently tantamount to 5% of Singapore’s peak power consumption. Such transformation is thanks to the SolarNova programme spearheaded by the Singapore Economic Development Board.
Suppliers Are Motivated
“[Solar energy] is a technology that would be prevalent in the future,” said Azhar Othman, Managing Director of Zaffra Solar Pte Ltd. Speaking the mind of many other suppliers, Azhar passionately expressed that “[his] solar business is doing good for Mother Earth”.
Azhar emphasised that the impact of global warming has become increasingly evident in recent years, citing cases of extreme droughts and floods. “In a decade or so, the temperature would increase by eight degrees Celsius,” he asserted. To put it in perspective, the COP21 meeting in Paris limits temperature rise to only two degrees Celsius to minimise catastrophic damage due to climate change.
“There is urgency in this issue,” he warned.
Businesses Are Responding
The private sector is also venturing to solar energy. Tech giant Apple has contracted Sunseap Leasing Pte Ltd to supply 100% of its operations in Singapore with solar power, including its new retail stores.
Other enterprises such as Tommy Hilfiger, Topman/Topshop, Brook Brothers, as well as Dickson Watch & Jewellery are expected to adopt solar power as well.
The Future of Solar Power Is Promising
The rapid advancement of technology has remarkably improved solar panel efficiency and feasibility. Critics of solar power may point to the fact that Singapore’s land space is too limited for solar power to have any significant contribution. That said, solar power is still projected to be behind 5% of Singapore’s total power consumption, thanks to a directional shift in government planning.
In future, the glass wall – a ubiquitous item for every skyscraper – can be made to produce energy from sunlight as well. Such technology has already been made available in Spain and the United States by Onyx Solar.
Perhaps one of the most important questions that remains is: how can we contribute in saving planet Earth?