More HDB blocks to have solar panels

Kimberly Spykerman Channel NewsAsia 14 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE: Solar panels will be installed at 680 HDB blocks and three HDB-owned commercial and industrial properties by end-2016. It's part of the HDB's Solar Capability Building Programme - which aims at harnessing solar energy for use at more residential blocks. The solar panels will provide an alternative and renewable energy source for Singapore and are key to HDB's sustainable development efforts.

Jurong East, Marine Parade, Sembawang and Tampines are the four towns that will benefit from the latest round of solar panel installations. This is on top of the 200 blocks islandwide that will be fitted with solar panels by the end of this year.

HDB's latest and largest solar leasing tender to date was awarded to Sunseap Leasing in October. The tender also covers three commercial and industrial properties owned by HDB - HDB Hub at Toa Payoh, Woodlands Civic Centre and Eastlink Industrial Building.

Under the tender, Sunseap Leasing will bear the full cost of the solar panels - which are installed on the rooftops of the blocks. For previous tenders, HDB had funded a portion of the cost to kick start the solar leasing programme.

Sunseap Leasing's business development manager, Shawn Tan, said: "We don't collect any upfront money from our client. We come in, supply and install solar panels and sell this energy to our clients at a discounted rate of what they are currently paying to a traditional grid source."

HDB said that as larger tenders are being called, there will be economies of scale. "Based on the current sustainable business model of solar leasing, HDB will not be funding any portion of the upfront cost for future projects to install solar panels."

The solar energy that is generated will be used to power services in the common areas of the HDB blocks, and these include the lifts, staircase lighting and water pumps.

Sunseap Leasing's Mr Tan said: "The direct benefit will essentially be that the building itself will draw less power from the traditional source, as it is drawing power from a renewable source of energy. That translates directly to a reduction of carbon footprint.

"Because there's a reduction in the energy you draw from a traditional source, the tariff we charge the town council is at a discounted rate. So when they use solar energy to replace the traditional source of energy, there's some form of savings in their utility bills."

The town councils only pay for the energy that is consumed. HDB says the savings can help town councils offset the rise in energy costs, which in turn benefits residents. If it happens that no solar energy is harnessed, these common services will then fall back on the usual electricity source.

HDB said it is moving toward using solar energy on a wider scale and aims to implement the solar leasing business model in more HDB towns islandwide. It added that it will also continue to test the various types of solar energy technology to determine what is most suitable and efficient for Singapore's climate conditions.

- CNA/ir

More Housing Board residents to benefit from solar power
Audrey Tan The Straits Times AsiaOne 15 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE - Residents in some 680 Housing Board blocks in four residential towns, including Jurong East and Marine Parade, will be able to tap the sun’s energy for their electricity needs by 2016.

And, for the first time, the Housing Board would not have to pay any upfront cost for the installation of the systems that convert sunlight into electricity.

Instead, the full cost of these systems, called solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, will be paid by Sunseap Leasing, the solar firm that won Housing Board’s Oct 27 tender to install the solar PV systems in Jurong East, Marine Parade, Sembawang and Tampines.

“Prior to this, HDB had funded a proportion of the cost for solar leasing tenders called earlier, to kick-start the solar leasing programme,” a Housing Board spokesman said in a statement. She added that for future solar panel installation projects, the HDB will not be funding any portion of the upfront cost due to the “current sustainable business model of solar leasing”.

The town councils of these estates will pay Sunseap for the power generated and consumed for services in common areas.

Under the latest tender, Sunseap will also install solar PV systems at three Housing Board-owned commercial and industrial properties: Woodlands Civic Centre, Eastlink Industrial Building in Bedok, and HDB Hub in Toa Payoh. The upcoming installations would supply 38 megawatts-peak (MWp) of solar power – the largest solar leasing tender awarded by the Housing Board since 2009. The HDB has, to date, committed to providing 54 MWp of solar PV, which will be rolled out progressively. This is enough to generate electricity for 14,000 four-room flats.

By 2020, it hopes to increase this to 220 MWp, by installing solar PV systems at some 5,500 blocks.