Singapore feeds first solar power into retail grid to reduce emissions

SINGAPORE - Singapore on Monday announced it had begun to feed solar power into its retail electric grid for the first time, as it seeks to reduce emissions and prepares to fully liberalize its electricity market.

Singapore, one of the sunniest cities in the world, generates almost all its power from imported natural gas, with solar fuelling less than 1 percent.

In countries like Germany and Japan, rooftop solar panels have helped boost capacity and bring record levels of renewable energy into the power mix.

Under Singapore's plan, commercial and industrial power users can purchase solar-generated power from the power grid. The power is generated through rooftop solar panels owned and operated by Singapore's Sun Electric, the first solar company given an electricity retail licence, it was announced at an event held by Sun Electric and Singapore's electricity regulator, the Energy Market Authority (EMA).

Building owners can agree to place Sun Electric panels on their sites and the power generated can be sold onto the electric grid. "The EMA will continue its efforts to facilitate the entry of independent electricity retailers," said Loh Khum Yean, chairman of EMA.

Singapore aims to fully liberalize its electricity retail market in the second half of 2018.

Singapore's installed photovoltaic capacity has increased from just 1.5 megawatt (MW) in 2009 to 43.8 MW by the end-2015, enough to power around 14,000 four-room flats.

The government aims to increase capacity to 350 MW by 2020, or about 5 percent of projected peak electricity demand, up from less than 1 percent now, according to EMA.

At the Paris climate change summit in December, Singapore pledged to reduce its emissions intensity by 36 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.