Forum: No evidence to suggest floating solar farms affect environment or weather

We thank Forum writers Philip Kwang (Lighter-coloured panels could ease heat effect, May 1), Peter Heng (Floating solar farms may do more harm to environment than good, April 28) and Leslie Lim (Installing rooftop solar panels may not result in much energy savings, April 24) for their interest in Singapore's solar deployment efforts.

Solar is Singapore's most viable renewable energy source.

As set out in the Singapore Green Plan, Singapore aims to achieve solar energy deployment of at least 2 gigawatt-peak by 2030.

This will meet around 3 per cent of our projected total electricity demand in 2030 and generate enough electricity to power around 350,000 households yearly.

While solar panels do heat up under direct sunshine, they absorb and convert solar energy to a clean source of electricity.

As solar panel efficiencies improve, a larger proportion of absorbed solar energy will be converted to electricity, instead of being radiated back to the atmosphere.

There are also potential energy savings when integrating solar panels with roofs coated with reflective paint.

International studies on the Urban Heat Island effect have reported varying effects of solar panel deployment on the temperature of surrounding areas.

The data cited by the writers may have been from studies conducted in different climatic conditions, such as desert environments, and may not apply to Singapore's highly urbanised tropical environment.

We have been and will continue to conduct research to determine the impact of local solar panel deployment on ambient temperatures and the environment.

For example, we first built a small-scale 1 megawatt-peak (MWp) test bed at Tengeh Reservoir in 2016, and conducted extensive environmental studies before deciding to scale it up to 60 MWp.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that floating solar photovoltaic farms have an impact on the environment or weather patterns.

This large-scale solar farm, when completed, will generate enough electricity to meet the demands of our five local water treatment plants, making Singapore one of the few countries in the world to have a fully green waterworks system.

Toh Wee Khiang

Director (National Energy Transformation Office)

Energy Market Authority

Zhang Weijie

Director (Energy and Climate Policy)

Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment