ST:HDB blocks to harness power from the sun

The Straits Times yesterday reported that solar panels will be installed in HDB blocks in Jurong, Aljunied, Telok Blangah, Bishan, Ang Mo Kio and Jalan Besar to help power all common area services. This is the second phase of the Solar Capability Building Programme.

HDB blocks to harness power from the sun

Solar panels will help power common-area services for 3,000 flats

By Esther Teo

The solar panels being installed in six precincts are expected to cut power bills for each of them by around $40,000 a year, a saving which will be used to defer rising energy costs. — PHOTO: HDB

SOLAR panels will be installed at 30 HDB blocks in six precincts across the island, in a $2.3 million initiative announced yesterday.The roof panels will be able to power all common-area services, such as lighting, lifts and pumps.

The green initiative will allow the precincts – Jurong, Aljunied, Telok Blangah, Bishan, Ang Mo Kio and Jalan Besar – to each save about $40,000 a year, the HDB said yesterday.

Installation of the panels – they will cover a total area 1.5 times the size of a football field and serve about 3,000 flats – is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of this year.Each block will have about 150 of the panels, which measure 1.8m by 1m and should last for 20 years or more.

Housing Board chief executive Tay Kim Poh said that as the largest developer in Singapore, HDB could play a leading role in supporting efforts towards sustainable development.

‘We see a lot of potential in developing clean, renewable energy; and particularly solar energy, given our extensive coverage of HDB blocks all over Singapore,’ he added.

Solar panels were installed in Serangoon North and Wellington Circle in pilot projects in 2008.But since then, the price of producing solar energy has dropped by more than half, said Mr Tay, making it the right time to carry out more testbedding projects.

However, residents should not expect lower service and conservancy charges, as the HDB says that any savings will be used to defer rising energy costs.

Norwegian company Renewable Energy Corporation was awarded the contract in an open tender, and will produce the panels in its Tuas plant.The initiative announced yesterday marks the second phase of the Solar Capability Building Programme, which was first approved by the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Sustainable Development in April last year.

Under the programme, 30 HDB precincts will be funded with $31 million over five years for solar panel installation.The expertise developed could eventually be exported to other tropical countries, the HDB said. 

The first phase of the installation was carried out in Tampines, Bukit Panjang, Marine Parade and the Tanjong Pagar in January. 

That has achieved net zero energy usage for common services. 

Mr Tay said these installations had helped the HDB better understand how to install and maintain the panels. 

The HDB also announced a collaboration with engineering consultancy Camp Dresser and McKee yesterday. 

They will develop a modelling tool to come up with indicators that can measure performance in areas such as water and waste reduction on sustainability environmental targets in Punggol. 

Research and development will be carried out to further enhance Punggol’s potential as an eco-town for the tropics. 

‘The short-term benefits reaped from the Punggol project will help to achieve long-term results in… future planning and design processes,’ the HDB said. 

esthert@sph.com.sg

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