In Conversation With Frank Phuan – CEO, Sunseap

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In an exclusive interview with SolarQuarter ASEAN magazine, Mr. Frank  Phuan – CEO, Sunseap gave us insights into the solar sector scenario in Singapore and the major rooftop and utility scale projects that Sunseap has undertaken. He also spoke about the world’s largest floating solar plant the company is building in Indonesia.

1. Please tell us about how the current overall scenario for the Solar Sector is in Singapore?

Solar is the most promising renewable energy source for Singapore due to its tropical location which gives it an abundance of sunshine throughout the year. 

Singapore plans to quadruple solar energy deployment to a 1.5 gigawatt peak (GWp) by 2025, rising to at least 2 GWp by 2030, according to the Singapore government’s Green Plan.  In addition to tapping solar energy through installing solar panels on rooftops of public flats, industrial and commercial buildings, there are plans by the government to tap regional power grids to access energy from neighbouring countries.

In this respect, Sunseap is well positioned to participate in any regional initiatives as a result of our joint venture with Malaysia’s largest utility, Tenaga Nasional Berhad. The joint venture was set up to participate in a trial by Singapore to import electricity from Malaysia.

Courtesy of StorHub

2. Kindly brief our readers about the major rooftop and utility scale projects that Sunseap has undertaken in Singapore.

We have undertaken many large projects in Singapore. Of these, the most noteworthy are: the Solar Nova project to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems across more than 1,000 HDB blocks and 49 government sites, and our floating solar farm in the Straits of Johor between Singapore and Malaysia which was completed in March 2021.

The first project involves installing 170,000 solar panels on the rooftops of Housing Development Board (HDB) flats where some 80% of Singapore’s population live. When completed, the PV systems will generate up to 70 MWp of solar energy, which is enough to power about 17,500 4-room Housing Development Board (HDB) flats annually.  A 4-room HDB flat – the most common configuration in Singapore – has an area of around 90 square meters.

The floating farm in the Straits of Johor is one of the world’s largest on seawater. It involved a total of 13,312 solar panels, 40 inverters and more than 30,000 floats. The installation is expected to produce an estimated 6 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year, potentially offsetting an estimated 4,258 tons of carbon dioxide.

3. Tell us about the current installed capacity of the company and what are the investment plans for this year?

As of July 2021, our contracted capacity of projects stood at 427MWp. 

In June this year, we partnered with China’s Statecloud Energy Co. Ltd (中企国云能源科技有限公司) to invest in a RMB300 million fund that will invest in solar energy projects in Jinan City, which is the capital of Shandong province, as well as in other provinces.

The five-year investment, through a Qualified Foreign Limited Partnership (QFLP) will provide funding to build, own and operate distributed solar assets such as commercial rooftop solar systems, with a target of achieving over 200MW distributed solar assets. The partnership will also build and eventually transfer utility scale renewable energy assets in Shandong province. This is the first such QFLP in Jinan City and the second in Shandong province.

4. Sunseap is building the world’s largest floating plant in Indonesia. Tell us a bit about it.

We will be building a floating photovoltaic system and energy storage system on Duriangkang Reservoir in Batam, which is an Indonesian island near Singapore. Construction is slated to start next year with completion scheduled for 2024. When ready, the floating platform will be the world’s largest with a capacity of 2.2 GWp,  spanning some 1,600 hectares.

The energy storage system will also be the world’s largest with a storage capacity larger than 4,000 MWhr.

By installing floating solar panels, we reduce evaporation and allow more water to be retained within the reservoir. At the same time, the water cools the solar panels, allowing them to generate more energy.

Batam is part of Indonesia’s Riau Islands and it is one of the country’s major industrial zones. Duriangkang currently provides more than 50% of Batam’s fresh water.

5. How is your company gearing up to face the next year 2022? What can we look forward to?

Sunseap expects to have a busy 2022 as the region’s solar industry is growing rapidly and we have a healthy pipeline of local and regional projects. 

For instance, the partnership with Statecloud Energy is expected to move to the next phase. Other than that, we will be deploying rooftop PV systems with an electric vehicle (EV) partner in Singapore that will be announced soon. We will also be expanding in Taiwan with the deployment of PV systems in new types of structures and buildings.

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