Pulau Ubin residents can now tap on solar and biodiesel for electricity
- POSTED: 10 Oct 2013 11:19
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About 30 residents and businesses on Pulau Ubin have signed up for electricity from a micro-grid being test-bedded on the island.
SINGAPORE: About 30 residents and businesses on Pulau Ubin have signed up for electricity from a micro-grid being test-bedded on the island.
Launched on Thursday, the micro-grid will allow residents and businesses to enjoy cheaper, cleaner and more reliable electricity supply, as opposed to relying on diesel generators.
The micro-grid incorporates biodiesel and solar photovoltaic technology.
It is part of a test-bed by the Energy Market Authority to assess the impact of intermittent energy sources, such as solar, on grid operations.
Unlike conventional power generators which can provide a steady supply of electricity, solar energy is intermittent in nature and dependent on weather conditions.
Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran, who witnessed the launch, said the learning points from the test-bed will help to enhance Singapore's ability to manage intermittent energy sources.
He added this will also enable Singapore to maximize the amount of solar and other forms of renewable energy that can be deployed when such technologies become commercially viable.
Mr Iswaran also pointed out that this will in turn contribute to the long term goal of diversifying Singapore's energy mix and moving towards a sustainable energy future for Singapore.
Work on the micro-grid began two years ago by a local consortium comprising Daily Life Renewable Energy and OKH Holdings.
Tan Chee Kiang, who runs a provision shop at Pulau Ubin, used to rely on diesel generators for energy. But they only run for 12 hours at a time and can be noisy.
But with the new electricity micro-grid, he now has a quieter, cleaner and more reliable option. "We don't have to top up the diesel, or maintain it anymore. It's now more convenient," he said.
With the micro-grid, it also means residents can install more high-power appliances.
Pulau Ubin resident Doreen Lim said: "If I can add an air-conditioner, it would be better...because the (diesel) generator power cannot support (air-conditioners)."
Using electricity from the micro-grid is also likely to be a cheaper alternative for residents on Pulau Ubin.
For example, using a diesel generator would cost $1.20 per kilowatt, as opposed to 80 cents per kilowatt to tap directly from the micro-grid.
But there may be some limitations to implementing such a grid on a national scale.
Mr Iswaran said: "We do have a limited land area...and even if you cover all of the available land, how much can it supply as a percentage of our overall energy needs?
"The general estimates are that solar, for example, could potentially maybe supply five per cent, 10 per cent of our energy needs, which is not insignificant, but it cannot be the source of your base load.
"But it's important that we explore and study these options, so that we are ready from a technical point of view to incorporate them as and when they become commercially and economically feasible. That's the objective behind the (Pulau Ubin's micro-grid) exercise.
"So I think you have to look at whether it is solar, or any other form of renewable energy, as part of an overall energy mix for Singapore. There are elements in it, and this will be one part of it."
Efforts were also taken to preserve the island's rustic environment by running the cables underground.
Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Minister of State for National Development and Defence, said: "In response to the call to maintain the rustic nature of Pulau Ubin, all cables were built underground. In addition, existing buildings were used for the generation sites, while the design of the visitor centre blended well with the environment."