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Sunny Side Up: 5 Things You May Not Know About Solar Energy in Singapore

18 Apr 2024
Featured Stories 18 Apr 2024

Singapore aims to achieve at least 2 GWp of solar capacity by 2030, which is equivalent to generating enough power to meet the annual electricity needs of around 350,000 households.

Nestled near the equator, we in Singapore know that there is plentiful sunlight all year round. This makes solar energy one of the most promising domestic renewable energy options here. It is no wonder that we are also one of the world’s most solar dense cities today.

But does our hot weather mean we can produce more solar energy? What influences the amount of solar energy we can harness?

Here are 5 things that you may not know about solar energy as we continue to push forward with our 2030 goal of achieving at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar capacity.

1. Hotter Weather Doesn't Always Mean More Solar Power

As temperatures rise during this hotter season of the year, many may think we can harness more solar energy. However, heat is not beneficial for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels which directly convert sunlight into electricity. This is different from solar thermal which uses the sun's heat to generate hot water.

In fact, solar PV panels become less efficient as they get hotter. Thus, typical PV installations on rooftops are designed in a way that there is natural ventilation to provide some cooling for the PV modules. For example, by having a distance between the solar panels and the actual roof surface (which also heats up during hot days).

2. Understanding Solar Irradiance

The amount of solar power generated depends on the intensity of sunlight hitting a particular location, also known as solar irradiance. Solar irradiance decreases when sunlight is blocked by clouds or the urban environment.

Solar panels generate the most solar electricity when the sun is directly overhead (also referred to as “solar noon”) and less in the early morning and late afternoon hours when the sun’s position is lower in the sky.

Interestingly, solar noon in Singapore is at 1pm (and not at noon), being the mid-point between the typical sunshine hours from 7am to 7pm.

Measurement instruments for solar irradiance on the rooftop of the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). (Photo courtesy of SERIS)

3. Solar Panels Can Be Surprisingly Stylish

Concerns over aesthetics often arise with solar PV systems. However, this is not necessarily the case with newer solar panels that can actually enhance a building’s appearance.

You may have enjoyed the shaded area under the stunning pergola in front of Guoco Tower or admired the graceful curves of South Beach Tower – both are installed with solar panels too!

But the most stylish solar panels might just be the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore’s “Peranakan modules”. They come in different design motifs and can be seamlessly integrated into the sides of a building. By using another technique called 'pointillism', SERIS can also make solar panels that show portraits or flowers.

The different design motifs which SERIS developed using different techniques. (Photo courtesy by SERIS)

4. Unleashing Creativity to Tackle Land Constraints

Creativity is key when it comes to maximising space in land-scarce Singapore for solar deployment. Rooftops are used for a variety of purposes such as housing water tanks, lift shafts, air-conditioning systems, car parks and even recreation areas such as rooftop gardens. Thus, we have to carefully balance these competing needs.

As for creative deployment of solar installations, a pilot has been initiated at Sentosa’s pedestrian bridge, Siloso Skywalk, to trial innovative solar pavement technologies. Elsewhere, you can find solar installations at various locations ranging from water bodies (e.g. the 60-MWp Sembcorp Tengeh Floating Solar Farm) to temporary vacant industrial land (under JTC’s SolarLand programme).

5. Solar Panels Are Unlikely to Disturb Your Neighbours

A common concern with solar panels is the possibility of glare which could inadvertently affect your home. Glare happens when sunlight reflects off the surface of solar panels. However, solar panels are actually designed to absorb light – which means they typically cause less glare compared to a regular glass window.

Glare from solar panels also only occurs when the sun is at a certain angle and if your home falls within the reflection path. Even in such scenarios, it is a manageable issue as solar panels can be positioned to minimise glare. Thus, the likelihood of your home being affected is low!

One of the novel ways of installing solar photovoltaic systems is on the facade of buildings, such as the installation at Dulwich College’s net-zero Greenhouse building. (Left photo courtesy of Dulwich College (Singapore) and DP Architects)


Singapore’s solar deployment has grown significantly over the years, from 0.4 MWp in 2008 to around 1 GWp as of the second quarter of 2023.

As costs of solar installations continue to decline over time, solar power has become increasingly cost-efficient compared to purchasing electricity from the grid. Our hope is that more consumers such as commercial and industrial (C&I) building owners and landed homeowners will be more receptive to installing solar energy.

EMA has taken proactive steps such as introducing regulatory enhancements to facilitate deployment of solar installations. Our approach is to price energy right and encourage the adoption of solar in a sustainable manner.

Find out how you, as a consumer, can install solar panels and potentially sell excess electricity generated.


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