I had earlier mentioned that Singapore would do well to prepare itself for the silicon solar panel industry since it shares a lot of basic technological similarities with the microelectronic industry. Turns out that Singapore has jumped on the bandwagon with a $6.3 billion solar power plant to be built in Tuas. With the price of crude hitting nearly 90USD per barrel, using alternative sources of power has become much more viable.
$6.3b solar plant to be set up in S'pore by 2010
The world's largest, it will make wafers and cells for clean energy, and create 3,000 jobs
A MASSIVE $6.3 billion plant for making solar energy products is to be built in Singapore. It is set to be the largest plant of its type in the world.
That means the future is looking bright for Singapore's ambition to become a shining light in the global market for solar and other clean energy.
The plant, which is expected to start production in 2010, will make wafers, cells and modules used to generate solar power.
Amid fast-rising oil prices and growing concerns about climate change, solar power is emerging as a serious option for future energy needs.
Singapore beat almost 200 other possible sites to clinch the plant which will be built on a green-field site in Tuas View with space set aside for supporting industries.
To be built by leading Norwegian solar energy firm Renewable Energy Corp (REC), the plant will be able to produce products that can generate up to 1.5 gigawatts (Gw) of energy every year.
That is enough to power several million households at any one time. Last year, the world as a whole produced products that could generate just 2 Gw in total.
In comparison, the current largest plant in the world, also run by REC in Norway, has a capacity of 650 megawatts (Mw), though plans are in place to double this to 1.3 Gw soon.
The Economic Development Board (EDB), which signed the deal with REC on Thursday night, said about 3,000 jobs, including 2,000 for skilled staff, will be created at the plant.
The latest mega-project to hit Singapore shores will catapult the Republic into the highest echelon of the global solar energy industry.
EDB managing director Ko Kheng Hwa said the global industry has enormous potential as the price of solar energy falls closer to that of conventional energy sources.
'The industry expects the price of solar energy to drop to the level of conventional energy in many markets sometime between 2010 and 2020. This will result in rapid adoption, strong demand and sustained high industry growth.'
He added that increasing awareness of environmental issues and climate change will also boost the popularity of renewable energy sources such as solar energy.
'The REC project will be a 'queen bee' to attract a hive of solar activities to Singapore - big companies and young start-ups engaged in research and development, manufacturing and innovation, as well as the supplier ecosystem,' he said.
REC president and chief executive officer Erik Thorsen said Singapore was chosen after nine months of screening involving 200 possible locations, due diligence of 20, and final negotiations with a handful of final contenders.
Speaking from Norway via video-conference yesterday, Mr Thorsen said Singapore was picked for a combination of factors.
'Singapore does not have the cheapest land, labour or electricity, but it offers the best combination of such factors, along with things like access to technology centres and research programmes, market access, stability and security.'
Mr Ko added that Singapore's experience and world-leading position in the semi-conductor sector held it in good stead, given similarities with the solar industry.
Asked if the new plant will prompt EDB to revise its earlier target of $1.7 billion contribution to GDP and 7,000 jobs created by 2015 from the clean energy industry, he said the target was still new.
'We set it six months ago and will revise it along the way if necessary. For now, we will just focus on implementing this latest exciting project with REC.'