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    Oct 17, 2016

    Pace of solar panel installations heats up

    THE sun is now powering the electricity needs of the equivalent of 26,000 four-room HDB flats - for over a year - in Singapore.

    And more are expected to come on board.

    There has been a sharp rise in the number of solar panel installations in the first half of this year, bringing the total to 1,409. This is 2.5 times more than the number installed a year ago.

    In 2008, when the Government first started test-bedding solar panels in HDB blocks, there were just 30 solar panel installations.

    Experts calculate that solar energy now accounts for 1.5 per cent of Singapore's total electricity needs or about 100 megawatt peak (MWP), and say the island is on track to meeting the Government's target of 5 per cent in 2020.

    The hope is that solar energy will gradually help reduce Singapore's reliance on natural gas, which makes up 95 per cent of its electricity needs.

    Nanyang Technological University's Energy Research Institute executive director Subodh Mhaisalkar said the number of solar panel installations this year has been "rapid".

    "Even though the cost of fossil fuels has dropped significantly, the continuing cost reductions and increased efficiency of solar panels continue to strengthen the viability of solar cell installations," he added. "The target of 350 MWP (by 2020) is definitely within reach."

    New and larger installations, such as Jurong Port with a successful completion of a 9.5 MWP solar energy generation facility, substantially contributed to the progress this year, said the EMA.

    Currently, non-residential users contribute to the bulk of solar energy here.

    By the end of this year, there will be about 900 HDB blocks installed with solar panels. This is more than double the 400 blocks last year, said HDB and the Economic Development Board in its press release yesterday.

    Towns where solar panels were recently installed include Tampines, Sembawang and Marine Parade. The solar energy is used to power common services such as lifts and lighting in common areas.

    In 2019, other sites including Bishan Fire Station and the new Prisons headquarters are expected to have been fitted with solar panels.