Forum: Brighter future with higher use of solar power

Solar panels on the roof of HDB blocks in Ang Mo Kio.
Solar panels on the roof of HDB blocks in Ang Mo Kio.ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

It is comforting to know that Singapore has set a target to raise its solar capacity such that enough electrical energy will be generated to power up 350,000 homes by 2030 (Singapore to ramp up use of solar energy for power needs, Oct 30).

That will be about 4 per cent of Singapore's total electricity demand today. It is just over four times of what the current solar energy infrastructure generates. Currently, solar energy contributes less than 1 per cent to Singapore's total energy mix.

A 6.9 million population figure by 2030 has been raised by the authorities for policy-planning purposes. Using this figure, the 4 per cent increase in solar generation of electrical energy would be disproportionate to the approximately 20 per cent population growth. There will also be further energy demands from growing industries.

With the growing need for energy in the years to come, Singapore can be even more ambitious in its push for solar energy reforms.

But to do this, it is necessary to push out solar panel installation efforts to more areas, including areas not thought of under the SolarNova programme.

For example, we could explore fitting solar panels onto the 200km of covered walkways to capture more light energy. MRT stations could also be considered when rolling out solar panel installations.

Besides just focusing on the production end, we could also supplement our solar energy supply by buying it from other countries.

Strategic partnerships could also be formed with other countries to jointly develop solar farms.

At the end of the day, it is our consumption patterns that will eventually drive the search for renewable sources of energy.

Thus, policies and education will need to go hand in hand in ensuring that people choose solar energy as their only source of electricity. With greater visibility of solar panels, hopefully there will be greater awareness and interest in solar energy.

Ong Yao Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2019, with the headline 'Brighter future with higher use of solar power'. Subscribe