Singapore's government is to hold a public consultation on improving the regulatory framework for intermittent generation sources, such as solar energy.
In a welcome speech at the opening of Singapore International Energy Week, S. Iswaran, second minister for trade and industry, revealed that as part of Singapore’s drive to diversify energy sources, the government had recognised that solar energy “is the most viable source of renewable energy for Singapore”.
After brief references to hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’), and liquid natural gas (LNG) as emerging and potentially economically significant energy industries, Iswaran focused on renewables, stating that the Singapore Energy Market Authority (EMA) is currently reviewing its regulatory framework “to better account for the benefits and externalities of renewable sources”.
The public consultation will examine how small-scale generators of intermittent generation sources, including solar, could supply the market with excess generated electricity via the national grid. This could include a feed-in tariff (FiT) system, such as that in place in other territories including Japan and Germany, although Iswaran’s speech did not directly refer to a FiT.
The EMA currently has in place a cap of 350MWp on the amount of intermittent generation sources, including solar, that can supply to the national grid. In addition to the launch of the consultation, Iswaran announced that the cap would now be increased by the EMA to 600MWp. This corresponds to the reserves now available to back up intermittent sources for system stability.
Singapore has invested in solar energy research and development, with Iswaran’s speech referring to “competitive research grant calls, test-bedding efforts, as well as support for research institutes – such as the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) – to study the technical aspects of adapting solar energy to Singapore’s context”.
A micro-grid test bed has also been established on the island of Pulau Ubin. The micro-grid has allowed residents to utilise a mixture of biodiesel and photovoltaics to generate energy, to some extent replacing the diesel generators that were previously in use.
Iswaran’s speech also referred to greater efforts the Singapore government would be making in the future to foster competition in the energy market, along with the intended incorporation of Demand Response into the domestic energy market, allowing consumers to “participate more actively in the market by curtailing their demand in response to high prices”.