Monday, June 21, 2021

JTC, Shell tie up to explore building 60ha solar farm at Semakau Landfill


JUNE 17, 2021

SINGAPORE — A solar farm will be built at the Semakau Landfill, covering about one-sixth of its 350ha space, if plans by government agency JTC Corporation and oil giant Shell come to pass.

On Thursday (June 17), JTC and Shell signed a memorandum of understanding to explore developing this solar farm at the landfill on Semakau Island, which is south of mainland Singapore.

It is expected to have a capacity of at least 72 megawatt-peak, which is enough to cut Singapore’s carbon emissions by 37,000 tonnes a year.

The energy generated can power up to 17,500 households for a year.

[How sweet! 17,500 households? There are about 1 million households in Singapore. 17,500 is less than 2% of households. And the major consumer of power is industry and commerce, not households. But hey, every little bit helps, eh?]

Solar panels have been deployed on the island before, but on a far smaller scale, spanning some 0.95ha.

The solar farm, which is expected to take up 60ha, is thus set to be the first large-scale solar project in Singapore where a landfill is used for clean-energy generation.

It is supported by the National Environment Agency (NEA) — which oversees the landfill — and the Energy Market Authority (EMA), and is in step with Singapore’s target to increase solar deployment to at least 2 gigawatt-peak by 2030.

This is equivalent to powering about 350,000 households for a year.

[Note that this (2 gigawatt-peak) is a target for 2030. Not going to achieve that with this exploratory solar farm on Semakau. What would it take? Here is the working from 2019:]

"Photovoltaic (PV) solar cells which are about half as efficient, will cover about 12,000 acres or 48 sq km for the same output. And this is just to generate 20% of our REDUCED electricity needs (5000 mw-peak, or 5 gigawatt-peak). Finding 48 sq km of unused space in Singapore to be a solar farm to generate just 20% of our power needs is not very feasible."

Singapore reached its solar deployment target of 350 megawatt-peak in the first quarter of last year.

For a start, the energy produced will be used as a renewable source for Shell’s Pulau Bukom Energy and Chemicals Park, which is about 2km northwest of Semakau Landfill.

In a statement, JTC, Shell, NEA and EMA said that generating solar energy on this scale comes with its share of complexities and challenges.

A joint task force comprising Shell and the government agencies has been set up to ensure that an “optimal balance” is achieved.

JTC and Shell will next conduct a Request for Information exercise next Thursday to find innovative solutions from the market.

A Request for Information is a means to collect written information about market capabilities and practices, which may be used in formulating requirements for tenders and quotations.

Calling solar Singapore’s most promising renewable energy source and a “key switch for decarbonisation”, EMA chief executive officer Ngiam Shih Chun said that he looked forward to the project’s successful roll-out as it would demonstrate how Singapore can be creative in its solar deployment.

["Most Promising"? As in we are not blessed with an abundance of wind, hydro, geothermal, and wave energy, then yeah, solar offers SOME hope. But we are alternative energy challenged.]

Ms Aw Kah Peng, chairman of Shell companies in Singapore, added that the multi-agency partnership was a showcase of the creativity and collaboration vital to successful energy transition.

“With a common goal of enabling more and cleaner energy, we look forward to exploring with our partners this opportunity to maximise the use of Semakau in a way that is compatible with its primary purpose as a landfill.”

[Solar power has a place in Singapore's mix of energy sources, but it won't be able to provide for all our needs.] 

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