A new concept that seeks to remove the hassle of installing bulky solar panels and drive down the costs of installation and maintenance is catching on among companies, schools and Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats.
Called “solar leasing”, any organisation can lease solar panels under a 20-year contract with the leasing company taking care of designing, financing, maintaining and operating the solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The tenants will pay 20 per cent of upfront costs and a monthly flat rate that is not higher than the retail electricity tariff rate.
But before proponents can declare it as a possible answer to Singapore’s constant bid to diversify its energy mix – the concept has already proven to be popular in other parts of the world, including southern California, in the United States – experts had some reservations about whether the concept would take off here, even as the cost of solar panels head south.
They cited the “short-termism” that is prevalent among private property owners. The fact that most Singaporeans live in public flats also meant that the government’s buy-in will be critical. Moreover, the cost savings might not be meaningful for private properties, given the economies of scale.