SMRT to use solar power for Bishan Depot

SMRT staff working on SMRT trains undergoing repairs while being parked at the Bishan depot on 12 November 2015.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SMRT has partnered with local clean-energy provider Sunseap Leasing in a move that will see the train operator's Bishan Depot, Singapore's first and largest rail depot, running on solar power by the end of October.

Installation of the one megawatt peak (MWp) solar photovoltaic system on the main depot building will begin in the third quarter of this year.

Covering 10,000 sq m, it is expected to meet the depot's operational energy needs, including lighting and air-conditioning for its buildings and workshops.

Under optimal conditions, the system can generate in a year electricity equal to the annual energy consumption of about 270 four-room HDB flats.

Train movements within the depot, however, will still be powered by existing electricity sources.

This is SMRT's first use of solar power and is expected to help it reduce its output of carbon dioxide by 553 tonnes annually.

"It will allow us to diversify our energy sources and reduce the carbon footprint from our expanding train operations," said SMRT senior vice-president for systems and technology Ng Bor Kiat.

Sunseap director Frank Phuan said: "We believe this move will encourage the other transport companies in Singapore to step up their sustainability efforts."

SMRT will also look at using the remaining available roof space at the depot to expand the system to generate up to 5MWp, which would allow it to power nearby MRT stations as well.

In December last year, Sunseap won Singapore's largest tender for solar panel installation, the first under the SolarNova programme aimed at encouraging government agencies to come together to use solar power.

This would allow it to supply 76 MWp of solar power to 831 Housing Board blocks and eight sites under the Ministry of Home Affairs and Public Utilities Board, including the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints, by the end of next year.

In 2014, the Government announced that solar power would fill 5 per cent of Singapore's annual energy needs by 2020.

This article was first published on May 20, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.