HDB crosses halfway point in solar target

With its latest and largest tender yesterday, the Housing Board has passed the halfway point in its target of having solar panels on 5,500 blocks to power public amenities like corridor lights and pumps.

The HDB and the Economic Development Board (EDB) said solar panels will be installed on 848 HDB block rooftops and in 27 government sites, including 22 educational institutions and the Choa Chu Kang Columbarium.

With the latest addition, there are now 3,350 HDB blocks that have or have been earmarked for solar panel installation.

In total, they are capable of producing 190MW peak - the maximum amount of solar power that can be generated under optimum conditions.

Yesterday's tender is the third under the HDB and EDB's SolarNova programme, which was launched in 2014 to compile solar demand from various agencies so that they can enjoy economies of scale.

The latest tender has put the HDB a step closer to fulfilling its 220MW peak of solar capacity by 2020. This can generate the equivalent energy to power about 55,000 four-room flats, while reducing carbon emissions by 132,500 tonnes each year.

Four government organisations are taking part in the latest tender, bringing the total to eight.

This includes the Building Construction Authority, which will install panels at its BCA Academy in Braddell, as well as Sport Singapore, which will install panels at a field that has yet to be announced.

The tender will close on Jan 31 next year, and will be awarded in the second quarter.

Said HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean: "HDB plays a key role in supporting Singapore's collective efforts to promote sustainable development. One area that we actively look into is to harness solar energy from the rooftops of HDB blocks."

In September, the HDB announced it was redesigning the roofs of new public housing blocks so that solar panels can be more easily installed.

The Energy Market Authority also recently awarded a $6.2 million research grant to study solar power generation. And during the recent Singapore International Energy Week, the Government announced the launch of a $17.8 million research grant to advance energy-storage technologies.

Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore deputy CEO Thomas Reindl noted that the SolarNova's previous two tenders closed with agencies having "substantial discounts" in what they pay for electricity by using solar energy.

He said this underlines the economic viability of solar energy as an alternative form of electricity generation in Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2017, with the headline 'HDB crosses halfway point in solar target'. Print Edition | Subscribe