SINGAPORE: A S$6.2 million research grant from the Energy Market Authority (EMA) has been awarded to help develop Singapore's capability to accurately forecast solar energy output, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann announced on Monday (Oct 23).
The grant was awarded to a consortium led by the National University of Singapore (NUS) during the Singapore International Energy Week 2017.
The consortium will look into improving the accuracy of solar photovoltaic output forecasts and grid management using techniques in weather prediction, remote sensing, machine learning and grid modelling, said the EMA in a press release.
Photovoltaic cells aim to convert energy from the sun directly into electricity.
Currently, forecasting solar power output in Singapore is challenging due to the "complexities of our local weather systems", especially over the long term, EMA said.
Solar photovoltaic power output fluctuates depending on environmental and weather conditions such as cloud cover and humidity.
For example, extensive cloud cover on rainy days can cause significant drops in solar power output, said EMA.
"If not properly accounted for, this may lead to imbalances between electricity demand and supply, especially when solar energy becomes a larger part of the fuel mix," it added.
The consortium's work will make use of the growing pool of solar irradiance data generated as more sensors are installed on the rooftops of buildings as well as weather data from the dense network of sensors installed by the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) islandwide, said EMA.
Singapore has been working to facilitate a greater adoption of solar photovoltaic power, said Ms Sim, with efforts contributing to a "sharp growth" in solar power adoption from 0.4MWp in 2008 to around 140MWp in the third quarter of 2017.
EMA's chief executive Ng Wai Choong said solar energy is the "most viable renewable energy source for Singapore" when it comes to electricity generation.
"The ability to forecast solar photovoltaic power output accurately will help our power system operator better manage the impact of solar intermittency as we integrate more solar energy into the grid," he said.
MSS, in partnership with EMA, will work with the consortium on the four-year project.
The consortium is made up of NUS, the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore at NUS, the Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing at NUS, A*STAR’s Experimental Power Grid Centre and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology’s Centre for Environmental Sensing and Modelling.
REMOTE METERING, NEW MICRO-GRID IN THE PIPELINE
EMA is also partnering with SP Group to award two Singapore-led consortiums S$17.8 million in grants to build Singapore's first utility scale Energy Storage System, Ms Sim announced.
This test bed will be built by CW Group and Red Dot Power, and is expected to be operational for three years at two substations and have an aggregated capacity equivalent to powering more than 330 four-room HDB flats for a day.
The Government is also working towards enabling "remote metering" for utilities, said Ms Sim.
Four companies - Diehl Metering GbmH, Mirai Electronics, TCSM Technology and ZH Technologies International - have been selected to develop and test-bed technical solutions to remotely read smart meters over the next six months.
SP Group and the Singapore Institute of Technology also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday to build Singapore's first "experimental urban micro-grid", announced Ms Sim.
To be housed at the Singapore Institute of Technology's new campus in Punggol - expected to be completed around 2023 - the grid will integrate gas, electricity and thermal energy into a single energy network.
The micro-grid can be connected and disconnected from the grid as required and will allow new technologies to be tested in a controlled environment, added Ms Sim.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT KEY: TEO CHEE HEAN
Against a backdrop of transitions in the energy landscape, Singapore must also step up its efforts to improve energy efficiency, harness renewable energy in more innovative and efficient ways and invest in research and development, Acting Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said while delivering the Singapore Energy Lecture on Monday.
He gave examples of various Government initiatives to improve the economic competitiveness, security and environmental sustainability of Singapore's energy supply.
One key announcement is the setting up of the National Energy Transformation Office (NETO) within the Energy Market Authority, said Mr Teo.
The office will adopt a "whole-of-Government perspective" in planning and coordinating research and development as well as enabling energy solution policies.
Pointing out that the public sector alone would need 250 more power engineers, Mr Teo said that EMA would also lead the development of manpower needs and capabilities for the industry.