Solar All at Sea? Renewable Energy Solutions Surface in Singapore

With 70% of the world’s surface covered by oceans and seas, it would make sense to utilise this expanse – something taken to mind by technology firm DNV with its newly unveiled floating solar array SUNdy.  Renewable energy solutions such as this are crucial in limiting global temperature rise to the targeted 2 degrees, according to a panel discussion at the recent Singapore International Energy Week. Read more

Editor: Here are two enlightened articles. There are many more innovations and energetic ideas and studies to come out of the recent Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW). More to come in future issues.

The sea’s the limit for solar

By Jenny Marusiak in Eco (5 November 2012):

Land-scarce coastal cities such as Singapore may soon be looking to the sea for their solar energy supply.

Global technology consulting and certification firm DNV unveiled a new floating solar array concept at the recent Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) with an invitation to companies to develop the idea.

Called SUNdy, the concept consists of floating islands – each containing 4,200 solar panels that together generate 2 megawatts (MW) of power – connected into a network capable of providing at least 50 MW of electricity for about 30,000 people.

The solar islands, which are about the size of a football stadium, would come with flexible solar panels that are prewired to minimize installation. DNV designers used a spider web design to create a flexible but strong platform that could withstand ocean movement and send electricity to shore through underwater cables.

Off-shore solar is not appropriate for every location – it is best in calm waters of between 20 to 100 metres within five miles of the shore – but it would be good for many densely populated Southeast Asian cities near the coast, said DNV KEMA’s global director of renewable energy services Kevin Smith at the unveiling.

DNV KEMA is a DNV subsidiary covering energy and sustainability-related industries.

SUNdy would also be useful as a disaster relief tool because it could be installed quickly, added Mr Smith.

He noted that DNV chose thin film solar technology – as opposed to the more widely used rigid crystalline solar panels – for the project for its flexibility and because of expected cost reductions.

Thin film solar is cheaper to produce than crystalline solar, but is still less efficient despite recent improvements.

The entire project installed at current prices would cost about US$4.40 per watt, but could go down to $2.50 to $3 per watt based on solar industry predictions, said Mr Smith.

Managing director of DNV’s Clean Technology Centre in Singapore, Dr Sanjay Kuttan, told Eco-Business on the sidelines of the event that they were assembling a business coalition to develop the concept.

The firm already has expressions of interest from solar farm developers and infrastructure companies, although DNV could not yet divulge names, he added.

By keeping the technology openly sourced – meaning no intellectual property (IP) rights are associated with it – DNV hopes to avoid “wasting time on lawyers” and create a prototype in as little as 12 to 18 months, said Dr Kuttan. He explained that participating companies would sign an agreement, under which investors could own the IP at a later stage if they chose.

The idea of floating solar arrays is not new.

Singapore’s Economic Development Board announced last year that it would build an S$11 million 2MW system on one of its fresh water reservoirs. And other inland projects have been installed in reservoirs and industrial holding ponds in places like the United States and France.

For marine applications, last year United Kingdom-based inventor Phil Pauley launched his idea for a floating hybrid solar-wave technology – called Marine Solar Cells – that captures energy from both ocean movement and the sun.

However, coming up with the concept for off-shore solar innovations is only the first step, said DNV’s Dr Kuttan.



By Melissa Low and Yuen Kah Hung, Energy Analysts, Energy Studies Institute (23 October 2012):

Energy efficiency can be the “game changer” to mitigate climate change and reduce carbon emissions, agreed expert panellists discussing the social and environmental impact of climate change at the Singapore Energy Summit on Monday.

Nicholas Fang, Director of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), moderated the session, titled “Keeping the Door to 2°C Open”. He highlighted the urgency of the issue by pointing out the need for a new climate agreement as the Kyoto Protocol expires this year.

Toshihiko Fujii, Deputy Director General of the Global Energy Policy Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan, highlighted Japan’s experience in the context of energy solutions to climate change. His view was that energy conservation and renewable energy are the keys to keeping the door to 2°C open – but that this required setting specific targets for conservation and adopting renewables.

In this context, Dr Fujii cited Japan’s post-Fukushima energy plan, explaining that Japan has set targets to triple power generation from renewable sources for its 2010 levels to 300 billion kWh by 2030. Of this, hydro power will account for 110 billion kWh. He said renewable energy capacity, excluding hydro power, is set to rise to 108,000MW by 2030, from 9,000MW in 2010.

“There needs to be continued improvement of existing feed-in-tariffs for renewable energy, but there also must be regulatory reform to introduce new energy technologies”, said Dr Fujii.  He explained that as renewable energy resources such as geothermal can be found within protected natural areas, regulatory changes are required for these resources to be tapped. This means that discussion among stakeholders is vital.

Dr Nawal Al Hosany, Director of Sustainability, Masdar, highlighted the need to find new sources of energy and said it was significant to see Middle East looking at unconventional sources of energy and renewables. She reasoned that there is a clear need to invest in a clean energy future so as to keep the door to 2°C open. She said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has targeted 7 percent of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2020. Dubai has set a 5 percent target within the same time frame.

Yoshiyuki Miyabe, Managing Director and Member of the Board, Panasonic Corporation, emphasised that energy initiatives are needed throughout the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Energy efficient appliances could be adopted to address the increasing trend of energy consumption in residential and commercial sectors.

Amidst the many proposals and rationales put forward for “keeping the door open”, there were expressions of concern about whether this was still achievable. Hon. Eileen Claussen, President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, was of the view that “while governments have adapted to the 2°C trajectory, I am a realist. Chances are slim, but that doesn’t mean we should stop”.

A sensible way forward, she added, would be to change the ways in which we generate and use energy. Renewables, natural gas, coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) are the means to move towards a low carbon society, she said, also emphasing the need to improve energy efficiency.

Jose Maria Figueres, President of the Carbon War Room and Former President of Costa Rica, was concerned that the door to 2°C has already closed. He asserts that 2°C is “no more a possibility under our present way of conducting our sales”. Citing the population in Bangladesh that will be displaced by floods and rising sea levels, Figueres said future climate change dialogue would also need to be anchored on values. For example, should countries accept climate refugees?

A major step in the fight against climate change requires partnership among governments, private sector and people, said Claussen. She observed that companies are leading the fight instead of governments. Collaboration between companies and individuals could kick-start governmental action, she suggested.

Taking a leaf from the banning of CFCs through the Montreal Protocol, Figueres was hopeful that stakeholders can take concerted action to fight climate change. He pointed out that shale gas is not a climate change panacea and additional measures are necessary.

Dr Al Hosany reasoned that widespread adoption of renewable energy will be dependent on economic conditions in each country. In spite of the challenges, she predicted a general shift to renewable energy. We are issuing an invitation to the industry to get this idea to reality,” he added.


One Response to “Solar All at Sea? Renewable Energy Solutions Surface in Singapore”

  1. When did solar panels start to become popular? Like when did you start to see solar panels on houses and solar garden lights?

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