Solar energy remains the most promising renewable energy source for Singapore when it comes to electricity generation. With an average annual solar irradiance of 1,580 kWh/m2/year and about 50 percent more solar radiation than temperate countries, solar photovoltaic (PV) generation has the greatest potential for wider deployment in Singapore.

Deploying Solar Energy in Singapore

Deployment of solar energy brings about several benefits to Singapore.

  • Solar energy generates no emissions, which contributes to environmental sustainability.
  • Solar energy requires no import of fuels, which in turn enhances Singapore’s energy security. 
  • Solar energy can reduce peak demand. This is because the peak energy usage in Singapore – typically in the afternoons – coincides with the periods when solar energy can be maximised. So lowering peak demand can potentially reduce electricity pool prices and bring benefits to consumers.

However, there are two limitations to deploying solar energy on a large scale to generate electricity reliably.
  • Singapore’s small physical size (716.1 km2), high population density and land scarcity limit the amount of available space to deploy solar energy.
  • Any power system with significant penetration of solar energy for electricity generation must manage intermittency appropriately, so as not to compromise grid stability.

Basic Grid-Tie System
Basic Grid-Tie system

Managing Intermittency

The output of solar PV is variable and dependent on weather conditions as compared with a conventional generator that produces a stable output. As such, output from solar is largely dependent on environmental factors and weather conditions such as the amount of sunlight, cloud cover and shadow. This can result in imbalances between supply and demand.

For example, a moving cloud can cause a sudden drop in solar energy output, which means conventional generators need to be on standby to make up for the shortfall. Failure to do so can result in blackouts. As such, the power system operator needs to ensure that there are sufficient back-up reserves of conventional generators available to cater for these changes.

Facilitating the Entry of Solar Energy into Singapore

In 2014, Singapore announced plans to raise the adoption of solar power to 350 MWp by 2020. This would be about 5 percent of the projected peak electricity demand, which would be a significant increase from the 19 MWp of installed capacity when the announcement was made.

For the latest figures for the installed solar PV systems in Singapore, please go here.

To enhance the deployment of solar energy, EMA has issued a Final Determination Paper making several enhancements to the market and regulatory framework. Some of the key enhancements included: 

  • Providing greater clarity on the licensing framework; and
  • Streamlining market registration and settlement procedures.
    •  For instance, the Central Intermediary Scheme has been implemented in April 2015, which allows contestable consumers to receive payment for selling excess solar energy to the grid through SP Services. Hence, they need not undergo the full registration and participation process with the market.

EMA will continue to work with the industry when designing the market and regulatory framework for solar energy, whilst ensuring that the power system can handle further increases in solar energy deployment.

Find out more about how to install a solar PV system for your business or home.

As part of the national drive towards greater environmental sustainability in the built environment, an advisory note on best practices for installing solar panels on building rooftops has been published, which can be found here.

Related documents on the deployment of solar energy can be found here.

Solar PV System on HDB Building
Solar PV system on an HDB building

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