Short Of Land, Singapore Opts For Floating Solar Power Systems

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Civic District Singapore
Civic District, Singapore
Credit: William Cho | CC BY SA 2.0

In the absence of vast expanse of land the Singapore national water agency has decided to utilize the country’s water reserves to tap solar power resources.

The PUB, formerly the Public Utilities Board, plans to set up a floating solar power system on the Tengeh Reservoir. This project will be in addition to a rooftop solar power project it plans to set up at Choa Chu Kang Waterworks. These projects are expected to meet the annual average electricity demand of 1,000 nearby households as well as the a portion of Choa Chu Kang Waterworks’ electricity requirement for water treatment. While the project was approved in 2011, the tender for the project was awarded recently with the work expected to start by the middle of this month.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Balakrishnan explained the importance of sustainable energy in Singapore’s water sector. Singapore, being an island nation, has limited energy and water resources and has to rely on energy-intensive water processing mechanisms like reverse osmosis.

Island nations have a tough time dealing with energy availability as they are significantly dependent on imports. Expensive imported energy leads to higher power bills and, in case of Singapore, higher water bills as well.

Now the floating solar power system would help reduce water loss due to evaporation and reduce algal growth.

Floating solar power systems could prove to be very beneficial to areas that lack adequate land area to develop large-scale solar power projects. The benefits of reduced water loss to evaporation is also pushing some governments to implement such projects.

The best example of this are the canal top solar power projects in the Indian state of Gujarat. The state government plans to mount solar panels over the Sardar Sarovar canal to reduce water loss.

Another advantage of floating solar power systems is that there is no need for acquiring costly land for the project. This is a critical advantage in island countries like Singapore that have to resort to land reclamation.

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Mridul Chadha

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

Mridul Chadha has 425 posts and counting. See all posts by Mridul Chadha

10 thoughts on “Short Of Land, Singapore Opts For Floating Solar Power Systems

  • Looking at a satellite map of Singapore I see there is a lot of roofspace that can be used to install solar PV. However, Singapore is certainly not like Australia where rooftop solar alone (plus a heck of a lot of energy storage) would be enough to meet the country’s entire electricity demand. There’s just not enough roofspace per person so they are going to have to get creative and do things such as use floating solar collectors if they want to get a large portion of their electricity from solar. In the future, as the cost of solar continues to come down, I presume they will put solar PV on the east and west sides of buildings.

  • In addition to the benefits to the water system, it will benefit the panels to help reduce losses from heat gain. Also this can help cut down on opportunities for vandalism or theft.

    • “Opportunities for vandalism or theft..”
      You do realize this post is about Singapore? They don’t do either.

      • 🙂 Well said. Vandalism and theft are more for third world countries like India.

        • Yes gentlemen I realize this is Singapore, where government control of the media and inconsistent reporting methodology to the UN and other international crime statistics make it appear that nothing like that could happen. However several years back another big solar project had problems getting completed, and several law enforcement up through district heads lost their jobs due to the disappearance of around twenty percent of the panels sometime between coming into the ports and installation. Off the record commentary from law enforcement blamed it on high import duties and the near impossibility for common citizens to access solar.
          Yes tourists are well protected and the streets are clean but if there’s no theft or vandalism then why such draconian punishment for even petty crimes? It is common belief that the tongs established centuries ago to combat British imperialism are still active even within the government.
          So don’t believe the hype.

          • Yep, why would they waste money on a police force (jails and courts also), if there is no crime?

  • One of the biggest engineering tasks here is dealing with that really large wavy (tsunami) you get so very seldom. Of course seen pics that look like one floating of the shore in Japan so maybe already solved.

    • If a tsunami damaged this solar farm there wouldn’t be much left of Singapore, since the panels are going to float on the fresh-water reservoir. The reservoir is probably at or near the highest point in the area, so if a tsunami reached it most of Singapore would have been swept away.

  • They have lot of sunshine. They can build solar panels in every apartment and office building. They can also build lot of off shore Wind mills surrounding the country.

    They are also planning to build more rail lines to cut the bus/car traffic.

Comments are closed.