Latest and largest solar panel tender for HDB blocks, govt sites awarded to local provider

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SINGAPORE - Solar panels are set to be installed in Housing Board blocks managed by the Pasir Ris-Punggol and Holland-Bukit Timah town councils, in a move to reduce Singapore's carbon emissions and, in turn, the effects of climate change.

Work will begin in the first quarter of 2020, said the HDB on Wednesday (Oct 2) when it said the tender for the job had been won by local clean energy provider Sunseap.

This is the fourth such contract to be awarded, and it involves 1,218 HDB blocks and 49 government sites that include 30 educational institutions and the National Library in Bugis.

It is also Sunseap's second contract under the Government's SolarNova programme, which compiles solar demand from various agencies to enjoy economies of scale.

The latest tender will reap a solar capacity of 70 megawatt-peak, 40 per cent more than the last awarded tender of 50 MW-peak.

This could potentially offset about 42,152 tonnes of carbon emissions, an amount typically generated from powering about 17,500 four-room HDB flats every year.

Sunseap Group chief executive Frank Phuan said his firm will deploy at least 170,000 bifacial solar panels - the latest in solar technology - for the project.

Unlike typical solar panels, the bifacial solar panels can generate power on both sides and as such, increase energy yield by up to 15 per cent.

They are also more durable, lasting up to 30 years, compared to the usual 25 years, he said.

Installation works under the first three tenders in the SolarNova programme is estimated to complete by end 2020. GRAPHIC: HDB

Said Mr Phuan: "When this project is completed, Sunseap would have installed solar systems on top of more than 2,700 HDB blocks or more than 27 per cent of all HDB blocks."

He added that the drive is in line with Singapore's pledge to switch to a cleaner fuel mix and cleaner energy solutions by 2030.

The HDB wants solar panels in 5,500 blocks by 2020. As it is, the board already generates enough energy to power 57,500 four-room flats and reduce carbon emissions by 138,500 tonnes every year.

As of August, about 2,000 HDB blocks have been fitted with solar panels, and installation at another 2,370 blocks or so is in progress.

The solar power can be used for common services such as lifts, water pumps and lighting for common areas in the day.

HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean said the board is a key player in the development of green and sustainable towns and estates in Singapore.

"From pioneering the installation of solar PV systems in our housing estates more than a decade ago, to becoming the largest adopter of solar energy today, we will continue to ramp up efforts to harness solar energy and do our part to prepare for climate change," she said.

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The latest tender saw eight companies submit bids for it after the launch last December.

The first tender was won by Sunseap in 2015, involving about 800 HDB blocks.

The second, which went to Million Lighting in June 2017, was for 636 blocks and 31 government sites.

The third was won by a consortium made up of Sembcorp Solar Singapore and Japan's Kurihara Kogyo in June last year for 848 HDB blocks and 27 government sites.

Installation works for the first three tenders should be completed by end-2020.

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