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Singapore solar first for water recycling plant

Solar manufacturer Yingli Green Energy announced Wednesday that it has clinched a contract for Singapore’s largest solar project to date.

On the same day, the one megawatt (MW) project at the Ulu Pandan NEWater Plant won one of four Solar Pioneer Awards from Singapore’s Energy Innovation Programme Office (EIPO), an initiative of the Economic Development Board and Energy Market Authority.

K-Green Trust, an environmental infrastructure business trust started by Singapore conglomerate Keppel Group, received the award for the Ulu Pandan plant owned by K-Green Trust and operated by another Keppel subsidiary – Keppel Seghers.

One of five water recycling facilities in the Republic, the plant will have photovoltaic (PV) panels covering about 10,000 square metres of its rooftop, which are expected to generate enough electricity for about 250 standard-sized households.

Chief executive of Keppel Infrastructure Fund Management Thomas Pang said in a statement that advances in PV panels had provided a cost-effective way to reduce the plant’s energy consumption.

“We are happy to be able to lower the carbon footprint of the plant and contribute to the national effort to reduce dependency on traditional sources of energy,” he added.

K-Green Trust declined to provide details on the plant’s overall carbon footprint. Emissions from the wastewater treatment process are overseen by the plant operator.

Singapore-based SolarGy will install the PV system, which is slated for completion in February.

SolarGy managing director Albert Lim said in a statement that the project was “by far the single largest solar project in Singapore”.

The Ulu Pandan NEWater Plant will not hold the title for the largest solar project for long. Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University plans to install 5 MW on its campus by 2016 as part of its master building plan.

The award announcements came on day three of the fifth annual Singapore International Energy Week 2012, held at the Sands Convention and Expo Centre.

Chief Executive of Singapore’s National Environment Agency, Andrew Tan, said at the award ceremony that the award winners showed that businesses were “now using solar as part of overall energy efficiency strategy”.

The annual Solar Pioneer Award, now in its third year, highlights solar projects in Singapore that stand out for innovative designs, large scale or improved installation techniques.

In addition to the Ulu Pandan NEWater Plant, this year’s winners were:

  • Singapore-based GreenPac environmental packaging firm for a 330 kilowatt peak (kWp) rooftop system that will offset about 20 per cent of the building’s electricity consumption.
  • Sushi restaurant group Sakae Holdings for a 270 kWp leased rooftop system on its factory in Paya Lebar, which also features rainwater harvesting and food waste-to-energy systems.
  • Singapore-based industrial real estate investment trust Cambridge Industrial Trust for a 150 kWp leased rooftop system to power the common areas of its Toh Guan Road industrial building.

The solar energy leasing schemes are fairly new to Singapore. The Republic’s Housing and Development Board introduced the first scheme in 2011 with an agreement with local solar firm Sunseap Enterprises. Leasing allows energy users to purchase solar energy without paying high up-front costs for solar equipment and installation.

The NEA’s Mr Tan noted that such financing options could help to close the financing gap for building owners seeking alterative energy options.

Solar companies are facing challenging times, and they “will have to adopt flexible business strategies to adapt and survive”, he said.

Article published by: Eco-Business, Jenny Marusiak