Solar outlook for the region looks bright for SANYO

Green Business Singapore recently met up with Dr Hiroyuki Kuriyama, Division President for Energy Systems & Solutions, SANYO Asia Pte Ltd, to understand more about SANYO’s solar products and market outlook.

From the discussion, we believe that the solar outlook for the region looks bright for SANYO, given its superior solar technology, its solar installations successfully tested in the field, and the growing opportunities for solar in Singapore and the region.

Superior Technology

SANYO has more than 30 years of experience in solar technology, and its HIT (Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin layer) solar cells has the world’s highest energy conversion efficiency. The HIT solar cell is an original technology developed by SANYO, and is composed of a mono thin crystalline silicon wafer surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers.

Dr Kuriyama explains that the HIT solar cell can achieve the highest cell efficiency of 21.6% and highest module efficiency of 19%. The higher conversion efficiency of HIT solar modules means that more energy can be generated per installation area. This is beneficial in Singapore with our limited land and roof space.

The HIT solar cell can also maintain higher efficiency at high temperatures as compared to a normal crystalline silicon solar cell. This means that the HIT solar cells are suitable for Singapore’s hot climate and would experience less drop in efficiency. In addition, the HIT solar modules are lighter, and more environmentally-friendly as they are lead-free.

Successfully Tested in the Field

Dr Kuriyama shares that SANYO’s solar technology has been successfully applied in several projects in the region. In Singapore, the SANYO HIT solar modules are installed at the Universal Studios theme park at Resorts World Sentosa in 2010. This is Singapore’s largest photovoltaic system at 500 kWp, using 2,397 pieces of the solar modules, and generating more than 629 MWh of energy in a year.

In 2011, SANYO’s solar modules are installed on the roof of the 43-storey Ocean Financial Centre, at a height of 245 m above ground. This is Singapore’s and Southeast Asia’s highest solar installation in terms of height. The photovoltaic system is 75 kWp, using 366 modules, and generating about 86 MWh of energy in a year. The building has been awarded the Green Mark Platinum Award by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA).

In Australia, SANYO’s solar modules are installed at the Lizard Island Research Station located within the Great Barrier Reef, and also at the Johnson & Johnson Medical headquarters in Sydney, which is the largest commercially-funded solar panel installation in Australia.

In Malaysia, SANYO’s solar panels are installed on the roof of Hotel Penaga, one of the many heritage buildings of Penang. The hotel is the first heritage restoration to receive the Green Mark Certification from Malaysia’s Green Building Index.

In Indonesia, SANYO is working with Panasonic (its parent company) to develop containers with solar power generation system, especially for rural areas with no electricity supply. The containers can be transported easily and help to supply electricity for villagers and medical equipment.

Growing Opportunities in the Region

Dr Kuriyama is optimistic about the solar outlook for the region. The recent proposed introduction of feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme for renewable energy in Malaysia would result in an increase in solar installations, and SANYO would be capturing this opportunity in the growing solar market in Malaysia. In the Philippines, the government is considering introducing feed-in-tariff, while Thailand is looking at solar farms. India has big potential for solar and the government is providing incentives for solar energy.

In Singapore, the push for Green Mark-certified buildings has resulted in growing interest by building developers to consider the use of solar energy. The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is also increasing the use of solar energy in residential estates, and the Economic Development Board (EDB) provides incentives for solar projects.

To increase the current uptake of solar energy in Singapore, Dr Kuriyama hopes that the government set a target for renewable energy, and consider introducing a feed-in-tariff scheme. He believes that it is possible to achieve grid parity for solar energy in 5 years.

Nevertheless, with an increase in environmentally conscious people in Singapore, there are now more enquiries on solar energy from the residential market. The payback period for solar energy in residential areas is about 15 years, less than the 20-year lifespan of solar modules.

Besides producing solar cells and modules, SANYO is also developing large scale lithium-ion batteries to complement the storage of solar energy. The first combined system of solar modules and batteries would be introduced in Singapore soon.

Images: SANYO Asia Pte Ltd

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