PUB studying potential of solar panels at more reservoirs

Floating solar panel systems could be a feature at more reservoirs here, to help get more energy from the sun.

PUB, the national water agency, is embarking on a nine-month feasibility study to assess the possibility of installing solar panels at its reservoirs and other facilities, it said yesterday.

The $338,000 study will determine the usable space for solar deployment, and guide PUB's future efforts in this area.

Ten reservoirs, namely Sarimbun, Murai, Poyan, Tengeh, Kranji, Pandan, Upper Peirce, Lower Peirce, Upper Seletar and Lower Seletar, have been identified for the study.

PUB chief sustainability officer Tan Nguan Sen told The Straits Times that the 10 were chosen based on factors such as the lack of congestion and visibility.

Besides reservoirs, the study will also look into the solar deployment potential at land-based facilities such as waterworks and water reclamation plants.

The study will be conducted by a consortium led by renewable energy systems company WEnergy Global, with SMS Consulting Engineers and Progressive Engineering and Management as consortium members.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology - which converts energy from the sun into electricity - has been identified as a key renewable energy source with high potential for large-scale deployment here.

Last year, researchers from the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (Seris) said the sun could supply almost a third of Singapore's electricity by 2050. But this hinges on factors such as Singapore's ability to reduce its electricity demand and expand its solar PV capacity.

Dr Thomas Reindl, Seris deputy chief executive, welcomed PUB's latest announcement, saying solar installations on reservoirs could help the Republic overcome space constraints. But one important factor that must be considered is cost.

He said: "To be competitive, the floating PV systems cannot be substantially more expensive than installations on land. This not only includes the floating structure itself, but also the interconnection to the grid and/or PUB facilities."

Currently, Singapore gets more than 90 per cent of its electricity from natural gas. But tapping more solar energy would put Singapore in a better position to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions further.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2015, with the headline 'PUB studying potential of solar panels at more reservoirs'. Print Edition | Subscribe