Singapore steps up alternative energy by feeding solar power into general grid

The country, which generates only less than 1% of electricity from solar power, aims to raise this to 20% by 2050.

Singapore has begun to feed solar power into the retail electric grid for the first time, a move that aims to cut the dependence on imported crude and natural gas.

Sun Electric and Singapore's electricity regulator the Energy Market Authority (EMA) have jointly said electricity generated from roof top panels installed by Sun Electric is now available for consumers.

Sun Electric is the first solar electric company in Singapore with an electricity retail licence.

"The EMA will continue its efforts to facilitate the entry of independent electricity retailers," EMA chairman Loh Khum Yean said, according to Reuters.

Singapore plans to fully liberalize the electricity retail market by 2018.

The country now generates only less than 1 percent of electricity from solar power. The Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) said in November the plan is to raise this to up to 20 percent by 2050.

"The aim is to reduce the fossil fuel dependency of the grid and replace that with the clean source, so that the carbon footprint of Singapore and the carbon footprint of an organisation, that is PUB, can be reduced," a consortium led by WEnergy Global said last year.

Under the plan to liberalise electricity sector, building owners now install Sun Electric panels on their sites and sell power to the general grid.

The country's installed photovoltaic capacity is 43.8 MW by the end-2015, which is enough to power around 14,000 four-room flats, EMA said. The government's plan is to raise this 350 MW by 2020.

SERIS deputy CEO Thomas Reindl said last year solar energy is the only source and option of renewable energy for Singapore, adding that the cost of solar modules has come down in recent years.

"There's been dramatic reduction in the cost of solar modules and solar systems over the last five to eight years and now solar energy is cost competitive with conventional power, for the case of Singapore and in many other countries in the world," Reindl said.

Singapore has no indigenous hydrocarbon reserves and must import all its crude oil and natural gas, according to the US Energy Informational Agency. The total primary energy consumption included 87 percent from crude oil and petroleum products, 13 percent from natural gas, and less than 1 percent from other fuel sources, it said.