APVIA: Singapore becoming base for solar business

A pilot solar-leasing program, a 1 MW CIGS rooftop project and a green business park, currently under construction, are some of the signs that Singapore is looking to engage more deeply with the cleantech sector and photovoltaic industry. These developments were showcased as the PV Asian Pacific Expo (APVIA) conference in Singapore came to a close today.

Over the past three days at the APVIA tradeshow and conference there have been a host of announcements from photovoltaic manufacturers and businesses that they have established regional offices in Singapore, to service parts of the world such as the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

On Tuesday, Trina Solar opened its office and MEMC a research center. On Wednesday, manufacturer ReneSola opened a sales office, and project developers Juwi and GL Group also opened offices in Singapore. Juwi said that it is developing new projects in Japan from its Singaporean hub.

Developments in the Singaporean photovoltaic market are also beginning to appear. A 2 MW solar leasing tender, for public housing, has been opened. The impressive plans for a green business park in the city-state were also displayed at APVIA.

The project will see the construction of eco-friendly offices, with integrated photovoltaic applications. Water recycling and green roofs are also features of the park. It will be officially opened in January and pv magazine understands that Yingli Solar is already working out of offices in the park.

Singapore is also hoping to leverage its considerable capability in the banking sector, and apply it to the cleantech sector and photovoltaics. Singaporean-based banks are intensifying their moves into solar leasing and Sino-Singaporean cooperation in eco-housing, green city planning and integrated photovoltaic development were also unveiled at APVIA.

While the tough times for the photovoltaic industry were also evident at the show, there were some positives signs for photovoltaic manufacturing in the region. Stefan Horn, director of business development for the Asia Pacific and Middle East region at the newly minted Hanwha Q.Cells Malaysia, told pv magazine that its Malaysian manufacturing facility is running at full capacity. The fab has an 800 MW nameplate capacity.

As APVIA closed its doors, one constant theme was the great potential for photovoltaics in Southeast Asia. While electricity prices remain extremely low, particularly for industry, in countries like Malaysia, the cost of the oil subsidies underpinning these rates are adding up and many believe can’t continue.

As these fossil fuel subsidies are eventually wound back, competitiveness for photovoltaics will draw closer and application countries like Malaysia and Indonesia could be set to take off.