3M launches one of Singapore's largest solar farms

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SINGAPORE - One of Singapore's largest solar farms, which can produce enough energy to power 500 four-room Housing Board flats, was officially opened on Wednesday (June 27).

The 14,000 sq m farm lies on the roof of science firm 3M's manufacturing plant in Tuas, and boasts 6,605 solar panels and 55 inverters. It can generate 2,400 megawatt hours of electricity a year.

The firm said the solar farm will help it reach its 2025 goal of using renewable energy to power a quarter of its global operations.

Giving a keynote speech at the event to mark the opening, guest of honour Amy Khor said that the farm would reduce 3M's carbon emissions by 1,139 tonnes per year.

Dr Khor, who is Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, reiterated green policies in her speech. They include increasing the adoption of solar power in the national system by 2020 to 350 megawatts-peak - about 5 per cent of the country's projected peak electricity demand.

On Wednesday, 3M also launched its 10,000 sq m headquarters in Ang Mo Kio as well as a customer technical centre that displays the company's scientific innovations to the public. Among other things, the firm is known for its Post-it notes.

Since 1966, the global conglomerate has invested more than $1 billion in its Singapore facilities which span business, research and development and manufacturing. It now employs 1,600 in the country.

Speaking at the opening, 3M Singapore's managing director Yuko Nakahira said: "As we expand our presence in Singapore, 3M is looking into ways to foster more collaborations with local and regional partners, and develop Asia-centric solutions that address our customers' sustainability challenges."

The firm's solar efforts join moves by public and private players to make Singapore more reliant on power from the sun.

On Monday, HDB announced that solar panels would be installed and operated by Sembcorp in blocks of public flats managed by the West Coast and Choa Chu Kang town councils.

The project, which begins in the third quarter of the year, will bring HDB closer to its target of having solar panels in 5,500 blocks by 2020.

At the opening of last year's Singapore International Energy Week, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that without resorting to subsidies, Singapore could generate 2 gigawatts-peak of solar power by 2025, about a quarter of national projected peak electricity demand.

Currently, solar energy accounts for about 2 per cent of the country's power supply.

The Republic already boasts the world's largest floating solar panel test bed at Tengeh Reservoir, and national water agency PUB wants to deploy floating solar photovoltaic systems on more reservoirs.

In March, Microsoft announced that it would buy solar power from the Sunseap Group in Singapore, marking the technology company's first renewable energy deal in Asia.

Under the deal, Microsoft will buy 100 per cent of the electricity generated from Sunseap's 60 megawatt-peak solar power project for 20 years for its Singapore data operations.

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