SINGAPORE: Three flagship research and development projects, aimed at diversifying the industrial uses of solar power, are set to be spearheaded by the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) in its efforts to propel Singapore in the sector.
SERIS CEO Professor Armin Aberle announced this on Thursday (Apr 5) during the institute's 10th anniversary celebration.
Housed in the National University of Singapore (NUS), the institute was founded in 2008 as a government initiative to stimulate the establishment of clean technology as a future pillar of the economy.
To achieve its aim, the institute has planned three new flagship R&D projects for its next decade of research into clean technology.
For the first project, SERIS will collaborate with Nanyang Technological University and the Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise to develop a 30 per cent efficient thin-film-on-silicon tandem solar cell.
Such a solar cell will improve the current practical efficiency of silicon solar cells, which is limited to around 28 per cent under natural sunlight.
The second project will aim to develop photovoltaic modules (or solar panels) that can be integrated on building surfaces apart from roofs, such as the facade.
SERIS will be working on making the photovoltaic modules lightweight, highly efficient and low cost.
According to the institute, the success of the project will open up commercial opportunities and export potential.
Meanwhile, the third project will look to expand the institute's current achievements in "floating solar" and develop a multi-purpose floating system of photovoltaic modules that will be suitable for off-shore use.
This could lead to the development of "energy islands" which would supply energy to nearby industrial zones or residential areas.
SERIS currently operates the world's largest such testbed at Tengeh Reservoir. It is also writing the world's first guidebook on floating solar, commissioned by the World Bank.
In the past ten years, more than 80 solar companies have set up shop in Singapore.
A S$2.5 billion factory in Tuas generates 1.5 per cent of global production, producing as many solar panels each year as there are inhabitants in Singapore.
Last year, solar energy accounted for more than 40 per cent of new installed energy capacity globally - the top contributor for the first time.
NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said the university aims to help Singapore achieve greater sustainability.
"In this endeavour, SERIS plays a key role by developing novel technology solutions to make the harnessing of solar power more efficient and economical, as well as working closely with public and private sector partners to address the challenges of optimising solar power systems to local conditions."