HDB calls 'largest tender' to install solar panels across government agencies

HDB calls 'largest tender' to install solar panels across government agencies

HDB solar panels
HDB says it is on track to achieve its goal of rolling out 220MWp of solar panels across 5,500 HDB blocks by 2020. (Photo: HDB)

SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has called what it says is its largest solar leasing tender to date, it announced in a joint release with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) on Wednesday (Nov 1).

This is the third tender to be launched under the SolarNova programme which is jointly led by HDB and the EDB. The first SolarNova tender was awarded in December 2015 and the second was awarded in June this year.

This third tender will aggregate demand for the installation of solar panels across eight governmental agencies, including the Building and Construction Authority, Institute of Technical Education, National Heritage Board and Sport Singapore.

Compared to previous tenders, more HDB blocks have been identified for this tender, said the joint release.

A total of 848 HDB blocks under West Coast and Choa Chu Kang town councils and 27 government sites will be installed with solar panels. The sites include CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School (Primary and Secondary), Dunman Secondary School, CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh), CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh), Choa Chu Kang Columbarium and Changi Prison Complex.

Tenderers are also required to optimise the roof space for solar panel installation.

With this tender, solar photovoltaic systems of 50 megawatt-peak (MWp) will be installed - a 25 per cent increase over the previous two SolarNova tenders, which involved the installation of 40 MWp of solar photovoltaic systems each, said the joint release.

The tender will close on Jan 31 next year and is scheduled to be awarded in the second quarter of 2018. The solar photovoltaic systems are expected to be installed by the second quarter of 2020.

HDB is currently the largest stakeholder in solar photovoltaic installation in Singapore, said Dr Cheong Koon Hean, HDB's chief executive officer.

According to Dr Cheong, HDB has committed to fulfil more than 60 per cent of the 350 MWp of solar capacity that Singapore is planning to achieve by 2020.

"To allow government agencies to leverage HDB’s economies of scale, we have aggregated the demand across agencies under the SolarNova programme jointly with EDB," she said.

She added that with the third SolarNova tender, HDB is on track to achieve its goal of rolling out 220MWp of solar panels across 5,500 HDB blocks by 2020.


Mr Arief S Budiman, assistant professor for engineering product development at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, told Channel NewsAsia that HDB’s latest move would have a positive impact on the energy market in Singapore.

“It is not only encouraging on technical accounts, since solar photovoltaic or PV (systems are) now robust and a technically reliable energy source for the energy market in Singapore and also for the long term ... in providing some security and resilience for Singapore, enabling us to provide for our own energy needs.”

Mr Budiman also noted that the solar PV sector in Singapore is maturing and that demand is expected to be strong.

However, he warned that there are other concerns that need to be addressed.

“The effect of degradation of solar PV systems especially in Singapore's tropical climate and high humidity conditions as well as high frequency of rain, which could lead to much more and earlier water-related degradation, especially to the polymer components of solar PV panels,” he said.

Mr Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University, agreed with Mr Budiman on the challenges going forward.

“The main challenge for Singapore includes the tropical environment where we have rain showers and humidity, which reduces the solar electricity generation timeframe to about 3.2 hours per day. The other challenge is with high rise buildings; to plan it properly to avoid any shading especially in the afternoon hours where the potential to harvest solar electricity is the highest towards the West-facing areas.

“Nonetheless, 50 MWp is a very significant deployment at one go and it’s something that will continue to signal Singapore’s commitment towards hitting our 1 Gigawatt target or even beyond.”

As of October this year, 966 HDB blocks have been installed with solar photovoltaic panels, said HDB in a media factsheet. The solar energy produced is used to "fully power common services" in the HDB estates during the day, including powering lifts and water pumps, said HDB.

Additional reporting by Brandon Tanoto

Source: CNA/nc