Temporary solar farms installed on vacant industrial land at Changi Business Park, Kallang, Tuas & Jurong

Flexible, modular solar systems are used at these vacant lands.

Ilyda Chua | November 04, 2022, 10:32 AM

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Ever seen one of those plots of vacant state land lying around?

empty state land Photo from Singapore Land Authority.

Many of them are open to the public for community use. But others, especially plots in industrial areas, end up pretty much sitting there, waiting to be developed.

You might think it's kind of a waste of space, and the government would agree.

That's why a number of those empty plots are now being put to use — as temporary solar farms.

Land-scarce nation

One of the biggest issues with solar panels is that they take up space, and a lot of it.

In land-scarce Singapore, we've found a couple of ways to work around our size.  We've installed solar panels on rooftops and even floated them in the sea.

Solar farm at Tengeh Floating solar farm at Tengeh. Photo courtesy of Sembcorp Industries.

But under the Singapore Green Plan, the aim is to achieve a solar panel deployment target of at least 1.5 gigawatt-peak (GWp) by 2025 and two GWp by 2030 — enough to supply 3 per cent of Singapore's energy demand.

As of end-2021, Singapore's total grid-connected installed capacity is 443.6 megawatt-peak (MWp). That means we still have a ways to go.

Temporary solar farms

In short, it's important to make use of what limited land we have.

But in conventional solar farms, the panels are fixed to the ground with concrete.

As you can probably guess, this makes them pretty permanent — and a city where land is both scarce and extremely expensive, that's not ideal.

The workaround? To use flexible, modular solar systems, that can be installed on temporarily vacant plots of land.

This means that when the vacant land is zoned for use, the solar panels can be easily redeployed to other places.

Hence allowing us to maximise the limited space we have, a spokesperson from JTC told Mothership.

Temporary solar farms

Currently, there are temporary solar farms in Changi Business Park, Tuas, Kallang, Jurong and Jurong Island.

Both the 10ha farm in Tuas and the 11.6ha farm in Changi Business Park, Singapore's largest ground-mounted solar farm, opened earlier this year.

The solar farm at Changi Business Park. Photo courtesy of Terrenus Energy.

Photo of solar panels at Kallang. Photo by Zheng Zhangxin.

Meanwhile, the site in Kallang is expected to be operational by next year, and the solar farm in Jurong Island will be expanded, with target completion in 2024.

Once complete, the Jurong Island solar farm will be able to more than double its energy production.

It will also be the first facility to integrate four types of energy generation: solar, floating solar, wind, and wave.

In total, the facilities — alongside JTC's SolarRoof programme, where solar panels are installed on the rooftops of JTC estates — are expected to generate a total of 82 megawatt-peak over the next two years.

This is equivalent to powering approximately 20,000 HDB 4-room flats annually.

"We will continue to explore ways to optimise available spaces for renewable energy generation," the spokesperson added.

Top image courtesy of Terrenus Energy.