Solar tech the way to go, says Khaw, as 80 more HDB blocks get fitted with panels

ANOTHER 80 public housing blocks in eco-town Punggol will be fitted with solar panels to harness energy from the sun, said the Housing Board on Thursday.

This will be done by private company Sunseap, which outbidded 12 other contractors in an open tender. HDB will offset a portion of the start-up costs - up to 30 per cent - and in turn, the town council will get a discount of up to five per cent off the retail electricity tariff rate.

The company takes care of the subsequent operational and maintenance costs.

In 2011, HDB also awarded Sunseap to power 45 blocks in Punggol at a cost of $11 million.

In a blog post on Thursday, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said this headway into solar technology has been fuelled in part by the dipping cost of solar photovoltaic cells, which has gone down some 60 per cent since the Housing Board first started implementing them on the top of HDB blocks in Serangoon North and Sembawang in 2008.

"As solar panels improve on their efficiency and their cost of production drops, the economics of solar energy is getting better every day," he noted.

The fact that solar energy is still more expensive that energy produced from oil or gas, should not deter efforts to go green, he said.

To date, HDB has committed to a total of $15 million for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems for 175 blocks of flats. This is equivalent to powering the energy needs of 1,800 4-room flats for a year,

"We will continue to bring such innovations to HDB towns and along the way enable our residents to enjoy cleaner and greener energy, which is also cheaper," said Mr Khaw.

The aim is to test-bed such technology in 200 blocks by 2015.