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Singapore Achieves A Milestone In Clean Energy And Decarbonization


The Sembcorp Tengeh Floating Solar Farm at the Tengeh Reservoir. Pic courtesy: Lee Hsien Loong

Amid the negativity involving the KTV Lounge Covid-19 controversy, Singapore unveiled a huge positive - a mega floating solar farm.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who had cheered and wished the #OneTeamSG on their Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics quest a day ago, launched the 60 megawatt-peak (MWp) solar photovoltaic (PV) farm that marks 14 July 2021 as a milestone in the city-state’s #SGGreenPlan. 

Christened the Sembcorp Tengeh Floating Solar Farm at the Tengeh Reservoir, this floating solar farm - the size of 45 football fields - is among the world’s world’s largest inland floating solar PV systems.

Land-scarce, resource-scarce Singapore needed this. Singaporeans water demand is projected to double by 2060.

This required PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency to plan and install 122,000 solar panels across 45 hectares at the reservoir.
This installation promises to reduce the amount of energy used in their water treatment processes by replacing it with renewable energy.

PUB’s LinkedIn post said: “The electricity ⚡ generated from the Tengeh solar farm will be sufficient to power Singapore’s five local water treatment plants at Bedok, Chestnut, Choa Chu Kang, Lower Seletar, and Woodleigh Waterworks, offsetting about 7% of PUB’s annual energy needs and reducing PUB’s carbon footprint.”

In his LinkedIn and Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: “This has been 10 years in the making, as we explored ways to harness the power of the sun for clean energy here.

“If you’re wondering how the farm affects the surrounding environment, studies have shown it has no significant impact on water quality nor wildlife. I was told a resident otter family has even set up its home there!”

The Prime Minister himself clicked pictures and posted them on Facebook with the caption “(photo by me)”.

Singaporean citizens were similarly delighted by this major development. Linda Cheong, APAC Region Area Manager at Salva Industrial S.L.U. commented on her PM’s LinkedIn post: “I’m waiting for a reduced electricity bill.”

Jasmani Buang, a Senior Director added: "Water bill too! 🙏"
Robson Lee, Partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP commented: Singapore is fortunate that our 1st G [generation] political leaders had secured our water supply as the most important resource when we became a sovereign country in 1965.

"Over the years, we have become more self-sufficient and better equipped to maintain, generate, and re-cycle our water resources to ensure that we will never be held hostage by any hostile forces who have any intention to cut off our water supplies.

"Kudos to our government for harnessing sunlight to generate clean energy to boost our water treatment plants to achieve a fully green waterworks system. This will further ensconce and enhance our capabilities to continually generate and augment our water supplies."

A research study published by ScienceDirect on 1 May 2021 says floating solar photovoltaics could help reduce the surface temperature of the water in the reservoir, thus mitigating climate change impact.

The study was carried out collaboratively by Lancaster University and the University of Stirling, United Kingdom. Giles Exley, Associate Lecturer of Energy and Environment, Lancaster University, spearheaded the study along with Alona Armstrong, Trevor Page, and Ian D. Jones.

In an extensively researched article on the World Economic Forum website, Exley cited an International Energy Agency (IEA) report stating “the idea [floating solar PV farms] has potential, but questions remain about the impact on wildlife and the broader ecosystems.”

While in-depth studies continue on the impact on wildlife and broader ecosystems, one fact is confirmed: The idea and installation of floating solar PV farms on water reservoirs are irreversible.

The benefits far outweigh the concerns. 

The biggest benefits are:

1. Solar power is the cheapest source of electricity in human history.

2. Floating solar PV farms help a nation free up land space to grow food or provide space for wildlife.

3. Studies have shown floating solar PV farms generate more electricity compared with rooftop or on-ground solar installations. The cooling effect of the water beneath the floating solar panels helps generate electricity at a higher percentage.

4. Climate change has increased the surface temperatures of lakes globally by an average of 0.34°C per decade since 1985. This has caused lowering water levels in freshwater lakes and reducing the depths of oxygen. Floating solar PV farms are currently the ideal alternative to address this issue.

5. Floating solar PV farms are the only biggest answer to the decarbonization of the world’s energy supplies.

The World Economic Forum's Fostering Effective Energy Transition benchmark’s 115 countries working toward moving to clean energy. 


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