Sunday, October 28, 2007

ST: $6.3b solar plant to be set up in S'pore by 2010

I had earlier mentioned that Singapore would do well to prepare itself for the silicon solar panel industry since it shares a lot of basic technological similarities with the microelectronic industry. Turns out that Singapore has jumped on the bandwagon with a $6.3 billion solar power plant to be built in Tuas. With the price of crude hitting nearly 90USD per barrel, using alternative sources of power has become much more viable.

$6.3b solar plant to be set up in S'pore by 2010
The world's largest, it will make wafers and cells for clean energy, and create 3,000 jobs

A MASSIVE $6.3 billion plant for making solar energy products is to be built in Singapore. It is set to be the largest plant of its type in the world.

That means the future is looking bright for Singapore's ambition to become a shining light in the global market for solar and other clean energy.

The plant, which is expected to start production in 2010, will make wafers, cells and modules used to generate solar power.

Amid fast-rising oil prices and growing concerns about climate change, solar power is emerging as a serious option for future energy needs.

Singapore beat almost 200 other possible sites to clinch the plant which will be built on a green-field site in Tuas View with space set aside for supporting industries.

To be built by leading Norwegian solar energy firm Renewable Energy Corp (REC), the plant will be able to produce products that can generate up to 1.5 gigawatts (Gw) of energy every year.

That is enough to power several million households at any one time. Last year, the world as a whole produced products that could generate just 2 Gw in total.

In comparison, the current largest plant in the world, also run by REC in Norway, has a capacity of 650 megawatts (Mw), though plans are in place to double this to 1.3 Gw soon.

The Economic Development Board (EDB), which signed the deal with REC on Thursday night, said about 3,000 jobs, including 2,000 for skilled staff, will be created at the plant.

The latest mega-project to hit Singapore shores will catapult the Republic into the highest echelon of the global solar energy industry.

EDB managing director Ko Kheng Hwa said the global industry has enormous potential as the price of solar energy falls closer to that of conventional energy sources.

'The industry expects the price of solar energy to drop to the level of conventional energy in many markets sometime between 2010 and 2020. This will result in rapid adoption, strong demand and sustained high industry growth.'

He added that increasing awareness of environmental issues and climate change will also boost the popularity of renewable energy sources such as solar energy.

'The REC project will be a 'queen bee' to attract a hive of solar activities to Singapore - big companies and young start-ups engaged in research and development, manufacturing and innovation, as well as the supplier ecosystem,' he said.

REC president and chief executive officer Erik Thorsen said Singapore was chosen after nine months of screening involving 200 possible locations, due diligence of 20, and final negotiations with a handful of final contenders.

Speaking from Norway via video-conference yesterday, Mr Thorsen said Singapore was picked for a combination of factors.

'Singapore does not have the cheapest land, labour or electricity, but it offers the best combination of such factors, along with things like access to technology centres and research programmes, market access, stability and security.'

Mr Ko added that Singapore's experience and world-leading position in the semi-conductor sector held it in good stead, given similarities with the solar industry.

Asked if the new plant will prompt EDB to revise its earlier target of $1.7 billion contribution to GDP and 7,000 jobs created by 2015 from the clean energy industry, he said the target was still new.

'We set it six months ago and will revise it along the way if necessary. For now, we will just focus on implementing this latest exciting project with REC.'

Friday, October 19, 2007

Are you for or against keeping 377a?

Check out this facebook group - Keep s377a! - which was created by a certain Mr. Dharmendra Yadav. Mr Yadav also wrote this blog post where he claimed to support the repeal of section 377a of the penal code.

I'm confused. Can someone explain to me what's going on?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Paying people to be their stepping stone

In one of my earlier post, I discussed the use of scholarships to attract Chinese immigrants from the PRC and how it does not seem to be working very well as a population policy with most of the recipients having little propensity to settle in Singapore. Of course, that required no great insight on my part but nevertheless, it was something I felt I had to articulate.

Well, it turns out that great leader himself no longer denies what ordinary Singaporeans have known for a long time: Singapore is paying bright young PRC nationals to be their stepping stone. From the full transcript of Tom Plate and Jeffrey Cole's interview with MM Lee:

We give a lot of scholarships to Chinese and Indians. If one quarter stay on here in Singapore, we're winners, especially with the Chinese. They come in here, they get an English education, they get our credentials and they're off to America because they know that the grass is greener there. The Indians, strangely enough, more of them stay here in Singapore because they want to go home to visit their families, America is too far away. We are net gainers for how long? I think in the case of China, maybe another 20, 30 years and then the attraction is gone. We can't offer them that difference in opportunities and standards.

Well, someone had to say it.

Now, I don't have to feel guilty about quitting Singapore for good. Hey, the great leader himself has said that he doesn't mind if 75 percent of Chinese and Indian scholarship holders use Singapore as a stepping stone. I gave 2.5 years of my life to the SAF and borrowed from the bank to pay for my own university education (I got no stinkin' scholarship from no one!), so I don't see what there is for the Singapore government to complain about.