PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Official Opening of Sembcorp Tengeh Floating Solar Farm

SM Lee Hsien Loong | 14 July 2021

Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Official Opening of Sembcorp Tengeh Floating Solar Farm on 14 July 2021 at Tengeh Reservoir.


Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Mr Ang Kong Hua, Chairman, Sembcorp Industries Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
A very good morning to all of you.

I am pleased to join you all today for the opening of the Sembcorp Tengeh Floating Solar Farm here at Tengeh Reservoir. This is Singapore’s first large-scale floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system. At 45 hectares, about the size of 45 football fields, it is one of the largest in the world.

We came up with the idea of building a floating solar farm a decade ago. We were looking for ways to harness solar energy at scale because we do have year-round bright sunlight for solar power, not today, but most days! Unlike wind or hydro power, which are not reliable nor even available here. As the cost of solar cells came down, solar power became increasingly viable and attractive to us, so we made use of whatever available space we could find to install solar panels. We put them on building rooftops, we put them on vacant state properties. But we still lacked large-scale plots of land to scale up our solar power deployment. Hence the idea of a floating solar farm was attractive, because it allowed us to make full use of the large surface area of reservoirs, while giving them a dual use. So in 2016, PUB, together with EDB, launched a 1 mega- watt Peak (MWp) test-bed at Tengeh Reservoir. This was a first-of-its-kind R&D centre for floating solar PV systems. Not only did it show that a floating solar farm was feasible, and did not affect surrounding wildlife or the water quality, but it also performed better than a conventional rooftop solar power system, because ofthe cooler reservoir environment, 15% better.

This gave us the confidence to go ahead to develop this 60 MWp solar farm. The energy generated here will be fed into the national electricity grid. It will be enough to power about 16,000 four-room HDB flats, or alternatively, it is more than enough to power the operations of our local water treatment plants that treat reservoir water to produce clean drinking water for Singapore. It is green energy, produced without carbon emissions and it will help us reduce our carbon emissions, equivalent to removing 7,000 cars from the roads. And that makes Singapore one of the few countries in the world to have a fully green waterworks system producing clean water with 100% clean energy, which is another remarkable achievement in our Water Story.

Because the pilot was so successful, we've now got Tengeh PV farm here, and we will be building similar floating solar farms on Bedok and Lower Seletar Reservoirs, which we expect to complete later this year.

This floating solar farm at Tengeh was designed, built, owned and operated by Sembcorp Floating Solar Singapore, in partnership with PUB. They completed this project in less than a year, despite manpower and resource challenges caused by COVID-19. And they did so through innovative techniques and improvements in the design and construction process. For example, Sembcorp’s engineers custom-built a device that sped up the assembly of the solar panels to the floats, by up to 50%. And the engineers also designed gaps between the solar panels to allow sunlight to pass through, and deployed aerators to maintain oxygen levels in the water, which minimised the impact on biodiversity and water quality of the reservoir. These were small improvements, but they made all the difference in making the project work. So I commend the team for a job very well done!

It is important that we continue to find ways to shift away from fossil fuels to meet our energy needs. Singapore is now one of the most solar-dense cities in the world, having grown our solar capacity more than seven times since 2015. By 2030, we plan to install at least 2 giga-watt Peak (GWp) of solar PV capacity here. Innovations such as floating solar farms will help us overcome our physical constraints, and I hope this project will give our solar and renewable energy industry a boost, and pave the way for more such facilities to be built here and in the region. This will take us one big step forward towards environmental sustainability, as we transition into a low-carbon future.

Let me congratulate PUB and Sembcorp once again for achieving this important milestone in our journey towards a sustainable and green Singapore.

And now it is my pleasure to declare the Sembcorp Tengeh Floating Solar Farm open.