Land-scarce Singapore builds floating solar farms to fight climate change

While Singapore is one of the world’s smallest countries, its carbon footprint is not necessarily proportional to its size. In fact, the city-state is ranked among Asia’s biggest per-capita emitters of carbon dioxide. The country has vocalized commitments to change things for the better and thousands of solar panels floating at sea off its coast are proof of this.

In recent years, Singapore’s government has ramped up efforts to move towards renewable energy, but that push hasn’t been without struggle. Lacking rivers for hydro-power and wind suitable for wind energy, Singapore has little choice but to turn to solar power. Here, however, lies another challenge — there’s not much space to install solar infrastructure.

In a bid to overcome this challenge, the thriving financial hub has resorted to setting up floating solar farms near its coasts and on reservoirs. One of the newly built solar plants, featuring 13,000 panels, stretches off the coast of Singapore into the Johor Strait that separates it from neighboring Malaysia. With a capacity to produce five megawatts of electricity, the farm can power up to 1,500 flats for an entire year.

“The sea is a new frontier for solar to be installed,” said Shawn Tan, an engineer who worked on the project. “We hope that this will set a precedent to have more floating projects in the sea in Singapore and neighboring countries.”

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