Singapore removes solar energy grid cap

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A determination paper published last week by Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) has revealed that the country is set to remove the ‘hard cap’ restriction currently placed on solar energy fed into the grid.

Restricted to 600 MWp, the current cap was first introduced a year ago to allow better management of power generated by intermittent sources, of which only solar currently qualifies in Singapore. However, due to the country’s growing energy needs, the cap is set to be replaced by a dynamic pathway approach that will enable more solar to be stored and fed into the grid.

The EMA has been consulting on methods to make the country’s intermittent power management more effective since last October, and opted against simply raising the cap, arguing that any sort of cap had the potential to restrict solar PV’s growth in Singapore in the future.

"Under the new approach, there is no hard cap on the amount of installed solar capacity in Singapore. If necessary, additional reserve capacity can be procured to back-up a higher amount of solar capacity beyond 600 MWp," remarked an EMA spokesperson.

Although ostensibly a vote of confidence for Singapore’s solar industry, some local solar companies have expressed concerns that a more dynamic pathway that requires more reserve solar capacity could increase their costs, and the costs of the consumers. Another argument suggests that smaller contestable solar providers – those that have systems of below 1 MW and buy electricity from other service providers rather than the national utility, SP Services – will be able to adapt to the new system easier, essentially jumping the solar supply queue.

The process of market registration is also set to be streamlined and updated, said the EMA. Set to be introduced early next year, the new registration process will allow consumers to receive payment for the solar energy they supply to the grid (at a rate of SGD $0.25.68 cents/W [approx US$0.20 cents/W]) directly through SP Services. Currently, energy providers have to register with the Energy Market Company in order to receive payments – a slow, cumbersome and offputting process for many.

Christophe Inglin, the director of German-based solar company Phoenix Solar, which has developed a solid presence in Singapore, believes that the new registration process will benefit schools and any non-air conditioned warehouses that shut down completely over weekends and public holidays.