No, You Do Not Need To Install Solar Panels to Use Solar Energy


By Natalie Tham
July 7, 2020

I'll be honest. Before I started working at Sunseap, climate change was the least of my worries. My knowledge on the subject matter was surface level at best, and I did not feel compelled to educate myself, either. Environmental activist Greta Thunberg's movement had taken the world by storm in the last year, and their efforts alone were sufficient in helping alleviate climate change, I naively thought. I was basically giving myself excuses to not live more sustainably.

At Sunseap, the extensive research that I had to do as a writer made me a lot more aware of the climate emergency, and I began to realize that urgent action was needed, even on an individual level. Finding out that Singapore was investing $100 billion over the next few decades to protect us from sea level rise led me to wonder how we could have prevented such a threat from looming above our heads in the first place. Reading up on the possibility of my own country being unlivable by the time I was 50 was terrifying. Then, I came across a statistic: "Buildings and households accounted for 19% of emissions in 2017, with air-conditioning accounting for a large proportion."

I could no longer ignore the fact that I, like millions of others in Singapore, unintentionally contributed to the problem simply by doing "normal" activities: Having the air-conditioner turned on, charging digital devices, even the mere act of washing clothes in the washing machine. These are everyday habits that we think nothing of, yet which contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Afterall, the energy needs of most households in Singapore are met by conventional energy.

Thankfully, conventional energy is not the only energy source for households. Solar energy can meet our energy needs, too, even as HDB or condominium residential owners. Friends and family I spoke to about this showed surprise, with the typical response being "Sure or not? No need to install solar panels meh?" Really, no need.

How does it work, then?

In simple terms, Sunseap exports the solar energy that we generate to the national power grid maintained by SP Group. SP Group then transmits and distributes the electricity to your home through this grid. You do not need to rewire anything.

Sunseap's solar energy is generated across a portfolio of solar systems in Singapore, spanning more than a thousand buildings including HDB estates and commercial buildings such as SMRT, Jurong Port, Panasonic, ST Kinetics and PSA.

When you sign up for any of our solar energy plans, every kWh of solar energy you consume will help displace a kWh of electricity needed from the traditional power generator, up to the amount of solar energy component in the plan you signed up for. For instance, an environmentally conscious user might choose the SUNSEAP-100 electricity plan, which helps 100% of a household's energy needs to be met by solar energy.

A customer who signs up with the SUNSEAP-100 plan and has a monthly electricity usage of around 450kWh will essentially be reducing about 450kWh of electricity per month generated from the traditional power generator, thus contributing to a reduction of our country's carbon footprint.

You might then think, "Isn't solar energy a lot more expensive?" Actually, it isn't. All Sunseap energy plans come with rates comparable with the SP tariff. The amount of savings depends on the energy plan you choose.

Let's say you're trying out solar energy for the first time. You're unsure if it works just as well as conventional energy, so you choose the conservative SUNSEAP-50 plan, which allows half your energy needs to be met by solar energy. You will be delighted to know that the price of the SUNSEAP-50 plan is kept affordable at 21.61 cents/kWh (w/GST), which is only slightly higher than SP's current rate of 20.97 cents/kWh (w/GST).

Having 100% of your energy needs met by solar energy does not make it that much expensive either. The 100% solar plan (SUNSEAP-100) costs 23.01cents/kWh (w/GST), a mere additional 2.5 cents per kWh. You may incur a slightly higher electricity bill, but your decision goes a very long way in reducing overall carbon footprint.

Living sustainably can look like: making the conscious effort to bring Tupperware and a metal straw with you before lunch, taking a recyclable bag to the supermarket, or patronising mostly eco-friendly businesses. While these are habits we ought to continue, our work should not just stop there. Sustainable living can and should involve tapping on sources of energy other than conventional energy, the largest man-made contributor to climate change.

I'm heartened to know that the next time I run my air-conditioner for hours at a time, or charge my devices a little longer than usual, I will be contributing less to the problem.

Sunseap offers a simple and hassle-free process of switching electricity retailers. To sign up for our residential electricity plans, check out here.