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.

Benefits of Deploying Solar Energy in Singapore

Deployment of solar energy brings about several benefits to Singapore.

  • Solar energy generates no carbon 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 there is greatest output of solar energy. Lowering peak demand can potentially reduce electricity pool prices and bring system-wide benefits.

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 install solar panels.
  • Any power system with significant penetration of solar energy for electricity generation must manage intermittency appropriately, so as not to compromise grid stability and reliability

Basic Grid-Tie System
Basic grid-tie system

Managing Intermittency

The output of solar PV is variable and dependent on weather conditions 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. This means conventional generators need to be on standby to make up for the shortfall, as failure to do so could 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. 

EMA has launched the final determination paper on Intermittency Pricing Mechanism (IPM) for Intermittent Generation Sources (IGS) such as solar. The IPM enhances the way reserves costs are allocated so that all generation types, including solar, pay their fair share of reserves costs. This will send the right price signal for the industry to invest in solutions such as energy storage to manage solar intermittency. This also ensures that solar continues to grow in a fair and sustainable manner in Singapore, while ensuring the power grid stays stable.

EMA has also published an online spreadsheet to assist IGS consumers in calculating their estimated reserves costs under IPM. All reserves costs figures are estimated and actual figures are subject to market conditions.

Facilitating the Entry of Solar Energy into Singapore

Singapore aims to deploy at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar energy by 2030. This is equivalent to powering about 350,000 households for a year.  

To facilitate the deployment of solar energy, EMA has made several enhancements to the market and our regulatory framework through streamlining of existing processes. Some of the key enhancements include the Enhanced Central Intermediary Scheme (ECIS) and the Solar Generation Profile(SGP) .

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

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

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