Daily life renewable energy: Creating a quieter, cleaner Ubin

Daily life renewable energy: Creating a quieter, cleaner Ubin
STEP OUT OF COMFORT ZONE: It is not that we are lacking in engineering or systems innovation skills, but simply the entrepreneurial spirit... Companies just have to break out of their comfort zones. - Mr Markson Tang (above), executive director of Daily Life Renewable Energy, which helped set up a new 240 kilowatt micro-grid on Pulau Ubin.

Visit Pulau Ubin these days and you will notice something missing - the rumble of the diesel generators that used to power the island's homes and businesses.

Today, its residents are plugged into their very own 240 kilowatt micro-grid that is being test-bedded on the island by the Energy Market Authority (EMA).

Set up to assess the impact of intermittent energy sources on grid operations, it runs on biodiesel and solar photovoltaic technology and was launched last month.

Mr Markson Tang, the executive director of Daily Life Renewable Energy, is a part of a consortium powering the initiative.

As a child, he used to cycle on the island and attend adventure camps. So when the project came up for tender in 2009, he seized the opportunity.

"I am keen on developing the clean energy industry in Singapore because we are lagging behind our neighbouring countries," the 36-year-old explained, adding that part of the problem is that most Singaporeans are spoilt by Singapore's "excellent national grid system".

Many are unaware about micro-grids and the economic impact that clean energy can have, he said.

"A lot of people think putting in place a micro-grid is the same as rural electrification. It isn't. In the United States, which has the most number of micro-grids, they are everywhere from buildings and industrial estates to military installations."

His father, a retired electrical engineer who would talk about new technologies at the dinner table, sparked Mr Tang's interest in clean energy.

In 2003, he started his company to trade solar panels and wind turbines. It eventually evolved to provide turnkey solutions for the energy sector, and Mr Tang has helped developed renewable energy projects like wind farms and micro-grids all over the world.

The Pulau Ubin micro-grid is the company's 67th. Yet, it proved to be one of the most challenging to put in place.

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