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Solar PV deployment in Singapore

Solar PV deployment in Singapore
October 29, 2015 Danny Scrivener

The Singapore government recently revealed new solar Photovoltaic (PV) capacity targets for government agencies. By 2020, Singapore is targeting 350 Mega Watt peak (MWp) of installed capacity, which would mean a significant increase above current capacity, which is around 33 MWp [1]. The target will encourage the continual development of new solar PV projects in Singapore over the next five years but with this comes the potential for greater planning considerations, specifically relating to aviation.

This article discusses solar development in Singapore with respect to possible impacts relating to Glint and Glare, and aviation.

Singapore has 5 main aerodromes in a small area.

Aerodromes in Singapore

Singapore has five main aerodromes in a relatively small area. The maximum distance between any two aerodromes is 30km (Tengah Air Base to Singapore Changi Airport). The five main aerodromes in the country are listed below:

  • Tengah Air Base
  • Sembawang Air Base
  • Seletar Airport
  • Paya Lebar Air Base
  • Singapore Changi Airport

The locations of these aerodromes are shown in Figure 1 below.

Singapore, Aviation and Glint Glare

There appears to be no formal aviation guidance relating to Glint and Glare from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Singapore (CAAS) however some aviation authorities (CAA in the UK and FAA in the USA) have put together guidance relating to this potential issue. The CAAS does, however, adhere to the guidance relating to glare within the Air Navigation Order of Singapore [2]. An extract from the ANO is presented below:

Dangerous lights

72.— (1) A person shall not exhibit in Singapore any light which

  1. by reason of its glare or any other cause or character of the light, is liable to endanger aircraft or interfere with the provision of air traffic control service for aerodrome traffic at any aerodrome; or
  2. by reason of its liability to be mistaken for an aeronautical light, is liable to endanger aircraft.

Whilst the guidance does not specifically reference solar PV development (or any other potentially reflective surface), the guidance does refer to the potential impact of glare from a light source. It may therefore be in interest of developers and aviation stakeholders to consider the effects of solar PV Glint and Glare on aviation activity going forward.

In the UK, based on our consultation and experience with aviation stakeholders, we recommend an assessment if you are within 5km of an airport, however we have seen requests for assessment out to 20km and beyond. Using these same safeguarded distances, we have put together Figure 1 below showing how a 5km safeguarding zone around Singapore’s aerodromes would look.

Five main aerodrome 5km Glint and Glare assessment zonesFigure 1: Five main aerodrome 5km Glint and Glare assessment zones

Figure 1 shows that approximately ⅓ of Singapore’s land mass lies within the 5km zone. If the area was extended to 20km then it is likely that most of Singapore’s land area would be covered. Of course, it is likely that many solar developments already exist within these areas and in the majority of cases, no significant impact would be expected (based on Pager Power’s experience).

There are however a small number of examples internationally where significant effects have been predicted or experienced, and therefore mitigation has had to be employed. An example is presented here. Whilst small-scale domestic solar PV developments on their own may not be of significant concern, an accumulation of small-scale development or larger schemes (>1MW) where the solar panels cover a larger surface area could be a more significant concern for aviation stakeholders going forward.

References

[1] Solar Photovoltaic Systems, Energy Market Authority, Singapore Government. (Last accessed 28/10/15).

[2] Air Navigation Order Chapter 6, Section 3, Revised Edition 1990 (25th March 1992). (Last accessed 28/10/15).

Image accreditations: Figure 1- Singapore’s Airports’ 5km Glint and Glare Assessments zones by Danny Scrivener created on Google Earth. © 2015 Cnes/Spot Image. Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO. Image © 2015 DigitalGlobe. Image © 2015 DigitalGlobe CNES / Astrium.

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