Pulau Ubin residents can now tap electricity grid

Solar panels at three Pulau Ubin sites generate electricity that is fed into a new micro-grid to power some of the island's homes and businesses.
 Mr Tan said he will tap the grid for some of his shop's chillers.
Solar panels at three Pulau Ubin sites generate electricity that is fed into a new micro-grid to power some of the island's homes and businesses. Mr Tan said he will tap the grid for some of his shop's chillers.ST PHOTOS: RAJ NADARAJAN
Solar panels at three Pulau Ubin sites generate electricity that is fed into a new micro-grid to power some of the island's homes and businesses.
 Mr Tan said he will tap the grid for some of his shop's chillers.
Solar panels at three Pulau Ubin sites generate electricity that is fed into a new micro-grid to power some of the island's homes and businesses. Mr Tan said he will tap the grid for some of his shop's chillers.ST PHOTOS: RAJ NADARAJAN

Electricity generation on part of Singapore's rustic Pulau Ubin island has just been upgraded to a more environmentally friendly system.

Thirty businesses and residents there have signed up to tap solar and bio-diesel energy from a micro-grid, in place of the diesel generators they used before. It will supply power to sites near the Ubin jetty and is a test project carried out by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and a consortium of companies.

The total project cost is $10 million over 10 years, which is being co-funded by the EMA and the consortium of Daily Life Renewable Energy and OKH Holdings.

Mr S. Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry, was guest of honour at its launch ceremony yesterday.

Besides providing cleaner, cheaper energy for Ubin residents and businesses, he said, energy-storage technologies tested on the micro-grid could in future help to boost Singapore's national grid.

He added:"This will enable Singapore to adopt new and renewable energy technologies as and when they become commercially viable."

Residents and businesses pay 80 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh) for electricity from the micro-grid, compared with $1.20 per kwh for diesel.

Provision shop and seafood restaurant owner Tan Chee Kiang, 65, said he would use grid electricity for some of his refrigerated drink cases and chillers, but will wait to see if the supply is stable before switching over from diesel completely. He pays up to $2,000 a month for diesel.

At the red, wood-panelled Tua Pek Kong Taoist temple nearby, its committee member Doreen Lim, 50, said diesel generators are hard to maintain and blackouts occur several times a year.

She said that with a steady electricity supply, "after the rebuilding of the temple, we'll consider installing air-conditioning".

But some, like resident Tan Long Je, 70, said their homes are not yet connected to the long-awaited power grid. The EMA put this down to wiring challenges.

Plans for the grid were first announced in 2009.

The EMA said data would be collected and the micro-grid's performance tracked for several years. Currently, there are no plans to extend it to other parts of Ubin.

caiwj@sph.com.sg