Asian solar market set to expand; Singapore ready to step up to the challenge

In an interview at the Intersolar Europe trade fair, Mr Goh Chee Kiong, director of Cleantech, a division of the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB) explained: "The strategy is to focus on the upstream products of the solar industry. We are talking about new generation solar cells, high-end thin film solar cells and enabling technologies. Singapore strives to be the epicenter for manufacturing technology."

He said that solar energy is "highly suitable" for the sunbelt and that Singapore is in a "geographically strategic position" to cater to these part of Asia.

pv magazine also took the opportunity to talk with Mr Goh about the emerging opportunities for photovoltaics (PV) producers in Singapore.

Mr Goh said that in the move towards building the world’s largest integrated solar manufacturing complex on the island, the Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) and the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB) have joined forces. He went on to say that REC is just one of the many manufacturers within the PV industry which has moved there, enticed by attractive incentives that have been provided by a government keen on developing innovative technologies in the field of solar power.

He explained that in 2007, the government recognized the clean energy sector as a key growth area for the economy and placed its bets on the solar industry to be the market leader. Two major reasons shaped this inclination towards solar energy: the semi-conductor industry was already an established one in Singapore; and the capabilities of this existing infrastructure ran parallel with the solar sector.

pv magazine went on to ask Mr Goh if the criteria for moving operations into Singapore are stringent. He replied: "With limited resources, especially land, good partners in the solar sector are necessary." He also stressed that companies like the REC are well-established and a company with a good track record is an absolute necessity.

Furthermore, he said bringing in companies that have integrated manufacturing facilities means that they are better able to weather the fluctuations in any part of the value chain. He asserted that technology innovation is a growth driver and companies with the same philosophy can always expect to be welcomed into Singapore. In this way, a comprehensive solar ecosystem can be built.