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EMA gives S$6.2m solar research grant, enhances solar scheme

SINGAPORE is taking its solar ambitions a step further with the award of a S$6.2 million research grant to develop solar forecasting capabilities.

The consortium receiving the grant, led by the National University of Singapore (NUS), will use techniques in weather prediction, remote sensing, machine learning and grid modelling to improve the accuracy of solar photovoltaic (PV) output forecasts and grid management.

Forecasting solar power output in Singapore, especially over long-time horizons, is challenging as it can fluctuate depending on cloud cover and humidity.

Extensive cloud cover on rainy days could, for instance, cause significant drops in solar power output. Such events, if not properly accounted for, may lead to imbalances between electricity demand and supply, said the Energy Market Authority (EMA).

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To keep power supply stable, EMA's power system operator will need to know the solar PV power output ahead of time in order to take appropriate actions to balance the grid, especially as Singapore integrates more solar energy into the grid, said its chief executive Ng Wai Choong.

Besides the NUS, the consortium comprises Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (Seris), the Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP) at NUS, A*Star's Experimental Power Grid Centre (EPGC), and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology's Centre for Environmental Sensing and Modelling (Censam).

At the same time, the EMA is reducing the hassle for consumers with small amounts of embedded generation to sell excess electricity back into the grid. While consumers generating over one megawatt now need to register as a market participant to do so, this cap will be raised to 10 megawatts.

This comes as solar installed capacity in Singapore quadrupled from 2014 to reach 145 MW-peak as at the third quarter of this year.