Link installation of solar plants and sale of electric vehicles

An aerial view of the solar panels on JTC’s Jurong Town Hall rooftop.
An aerial view of the solar panels on JTC’s Jurong Town Hall rooftop.PHOTO: JTC

To date, the proposals to reduce Singapore's greenhouse gas emissions, while laudable, may not have a huge effect.

The large-scale adoptions of solar power and electric vehicles (EVs) are two avenues by which emissions could be reduced significantly and rapidly. Currently, the uptake of both is slow due to the cost and lack of economic incentives.

Return on investment from solar-power systems is quite low and EVs are expensive partly because of the way they are taxed.

The installation of solar plants and the sale of EVs should be tied together. For example, a developer of a 1MW solar plant would be allowed to import EVs duty-free that would consume the electricity generated by that solar plant.

It doesn't take much effort to imagine how this would turbocharge both the construction of solar plants and the take-up rate of EVs in Singapore. EV-charging stations will be installed by developers at a faster rate if there is more demand as the EV population increases.

There may be a short-term reduction in government revenue from the import of duty-free EVs, but this could be adjusted as the cost of EVs drop and the number becomes a greater portion of the overall vehicle population.

Tying the adoption of solar power and EVs could be the low-hanging fruit on reducing emissions at a low cost to Singapore.

Robert Alexander Stone

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2019, with the headline 'Link installation of solar plants and sale of electric vehicles'. Print Edition | Subscribe