Singapore: Over 1,000 HDB blocks and government sites to benefit from solar panel installation

The Housing & Development Board (HDB) has awarded its eighth and largest solar leasing tender to date to Sunseap Leasing Pte Ltd, an entity of EDP Renewables APAC, an official news release stated on Wednesday.

HDB. Photo courtesy: Unsplash
HDB Flats in Singapore. Photo: Unsplash

This tender, under the SolarNova programme, covers the installation of solar panels at about 1,075 HDB blocks and 101 government sites with a solar capacity of 130 megawatt-peak (MWp). This is about 15 percent higher than the earlier estimates of 113 MWp.

Separately, HDB has also awarded tenders to Chevalier Singapore Pte Ltd and EM Services Pte Ltd, to retrofit 4,000 lifts island wide with the Elevator Energy Regeneration System (EERS).

Both the SolarNova programme and EERS, rolled out under the HDB Green Towns Programme, are part of HDB’s efforts to reduce energy consumption in our HDB towns.

The Green Towns Programme helps to mitigate climate change while creating a cleaner and more comfortable living environment for our residents, such as through initiatives that reduce energy consumption in our towns. Other green initiatives introduced under the programme aim to recycle rainwater, cool our towns, encourage green commute, and reduce waste. We will continue to explore new initiatives to improve residents’ quality of life, stretch HDB’s sustainability targets, and support the national goal of achieving a green and sustainable Singapore.

Tan Sze Tiong, HDB’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Group Director of Building & Research Institute.

SolarNova 8: Novel technology to prolong lifespan of solar panels

For the first time since the launch of the SolarNova programme in 2014, this latest SolarNova tender will include the use of a novel advanced technology to prolong the lifespan of solar panels.

Generally, solar panels can last about 25 to 30 years while undergoing natural degradation due to ageing and changing weather conditions. Due to degradation, a solar panel would on average, generate around 12 percent to 15 percent less power towards the end of its lifespan.

Up to 5 percent of solar panels’ efficiency can be recovered using a new advanced technology. Photo courtesy: EtaVolt Pte. Ltd.
A new advanced technology can help recover up to 5 percent of solar panels’ efficiency. Photo courtesy: EtaVolt Pte. Ltd.

To prolong the lifespan of a solar panel, EDP Renewables APAC has collaborated with EtaVolt to pilot an advanced regeneration technology for solar panels on HDB blocks, which can extend the lifespan of each solar panel by 4 to 5 years.

This patented technology developed by EtaVolt relies on intense light to re-energise the solar cells and repair them at the molecular level, to recover up to 5 percent of the solar panel’s efficiency, depending on panel structures, in minutes. This advanced regeneration activity only needs to be carried out at most once a year.

Progressive installation of solar panels

HDB’s solar journey began in 2008 and today, we it is the largest driver for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Singapore. Including the eight SolarNova tenders and efforts prior to the SolarNova programme, HDB has committed a total solar capacity of 455 MWp across the HDB estates, which is equivalent to powering approximately 114,000 4-room flats. This is almost 85 percent of its solar target of 540 MWp by 2030.

How the Elevator Energy Regeneration System works. Photo courtesy: HDB
Illustration of how the Elevator Energy Regeneration System works. Photo courtesy: HDB

In HDB estates, solar energy that is harnessed is first used to power common services, such as lifts, lights, and water pumps in the day. Excess solar energy is then channelled to the grid. On average, it has been able to achieve net-zero energy consumption for the common areas of HDB blocks where solar panels have been installed.

Installation of solar panels under SolarNova 8 is expected to commence in the second quarter of 2024 and complete by the third quarter of 2026. HDB aims to install solar panels on as many blocks as possible.

To date, about 3,900 HDB blocks have been installed with solar panels. Solar panels for the remaining HDB blocks, where feasible, will progressively be installed in batches over the next three years. Actual installation will be determined based on the site conditions of each block.

Award of tenders to retrofit 4,000 lifts with Elevator Energy Regeneration System

In addition to awarding the eighth solar leasing tender, HDB also awarded tenders to Chevalier Singapore Pte Ltd and EM Services Pte Ltd for the retrofitting of 4,000 lifts island wide with the Elevator Energy Regeneration System (EERS). Retrofitting works will commence in the second quarter of 2024 and complete by 2030.

The EERS recovers energy generated during lift motions and braking operations, to power other services such as lighting, ventilation, and the lift display panel within the lift. With the EERS, lift energy consumption can be reduced by an average of 20 percent.