You might have seen solar panels ground-mounting on vacant land in Singapore. Today I was on a cab when the driver told me about this and thought it is such a waste of land in Singapore.
So I explained the idea that our government agencies had and the tender they designed. The projects are actually to maximise the use of land rather than waste them. In Singapore, there are plots which are left vacant for future development – they may not be empty for the full period of a solar farm, but at any one time in the island of Singapore, there should be enough space to hold a certain amount of ground-mounted solar. So the plan is to move the panels around to a vacant lot once an existing solar farm land is needed for development.
Such a model seems common sensical but requires a great deal of coordination and detailed thinking. But in the grand scheme of trying to produce more green electricity for our island state, this is not exactly a great solution. And this is an example of the challenge that Singapore faces when it comes to being innovative and scaling solutions. We have requirement for unique solutions that serves us well but probably no one else – nor are we able to easily adapt our solutions to other places.
Not sure who else would want to be moving their solar panels around.
Had a chat with a friend who used to be in the oil & gas industry; well at least along the value chain. He was also a bit on the old school side of things and he calls solar PV technology primitive because compared to the gas turbines whose efficiency is 60% when using combined cycle, the efficiency of converting solar energy into electricity is only 15-20%.
I was a bit surprised at that idea given that inputs in terms of the energy from the sun is free whereas you might need to calculate the energy cost from the drilling, piping, even liquefaction and then gasification of gas. Nevertheless, the point is that turbine technology has been widely adopted and used for many more decades than the solar panels. So a lot more money, time, resources have been invested into that those technology compared to renewables. That is simply fact.
Yet if you consider which technology has more room for progress and can move us to a future that we want to live in, the answer is just as clear. The problem again, with the economic analysis undertaken is that they are all based on individuals considering Ceteris Paribus everywhere else. The energy transition, decarbonisation is more than just that an individual decision and it was never meant to be worthwhile done alone. It was something to be coordinated, actions taken together. Which is why we cannot allow all of these technologies like solar, wind, EVs, hydrogen to be as primitive as they are.
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