New Delhi: In a bid to fight climate change land-scarce Singapore has built floating solar farms stretched out into the sea to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The prosperous financial hub is among the biggest per capita carbon dioxide emitters in Asia, it is almost half the size of Delhi.
The country does not have rivers for hydro-electricity and the wind is not strong enough to power turbines which is why they chose solar power – little land space it has resorted to setting up energy plants off its coasts and on reservoirs.
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“After exhausting the rooftops and the available land, which is very scarce, the next big potential is actually our water area,” said Jen Tan, senior vice president and head of solar in Southeast Asia at conglomerate Sembcorp Industries, which is building a project according to an AFP report.
Last month, the government unveiled a wide-ranging “green plan” that included steps such as planting more trees, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and building more charging points to encourage the use of electric cars. Among the measures is increasing solar energy use four-fold to around two percent of the nation’s power needs by 2025, and to three percent by 2030 — enough for 350,000 households per year.
A newly built solar farm spreads out from the coast into the Johor Strait, which separates Singapore from Malaysia it consists of13,000 panels which are anchored to the seabed and can produce five megawatts of electricity, enough to power 1,400 flats for an entire year.
According to the AFP report, “The sea is a new frontier for solar to be installed,” said Shawn Tan, vice president for engineering at Singaporean firm Sunseap Group, which completed the project in January. Tan added, “We hope that this will set a precedent to have more floating projects in the sea in Singapore and neighbouring countries.”
However, Red Constantino, executive director of the Philippines-based Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities told AFP that projects such as floating solar farms are not enough unless backed up with a greater official commitment to cut emissions.
“They need to set a higher absolute target. Such a target sends a signal to the very business community by which Singapore’s economy thrives.” Red added.