Forum: Installing rooftop solar panels may not result in much energy savings, Forum News & Top Stories

I’ve followed the Straits Times’ reports on climate change and read about the heat island effect that metropolitan cities like Singapore are experiencing.

Singapore will get hotter and hotter in the future and it is now the trend to install solar modules on the roof in private properties (protecting the environment on one roof at a time with solar energy, April 22nd).

But I’ve read that this will actually worsen the heat island effect.

A forum letter was posted last year explaining why rooftop solar panels are actually counterproductive (Rethink Large Solar Systems, September 22, 2020).

The author, Mr. Peter Heng, said researchers found that rooftop solar panels increase local temperatures by creating a solar heat island effect similar to that found in industrial areas.

This is because solar panels are usually made of dark materials that encourage high levels of solar radiation. Such materials absorb a relatively large amount of solar energy over a certain area and give most of it back to the environment.

The studies have shown that solar parks can increase ambient air temperatures by 3 ° C to 4 ° C.

Mr. Heng also said that due to Singapore’s tropical climate, the energy costs of combating this heat island effect, such as air conditioning, could more than offset the energy generated by solar panels.

He added, “In fact, a ‘greener’ and cheaper solution to reducing our overall global warming contribution (and not just our carbon footprint) could be to simply paint our roofs white.”

Therefore, installing solar panels on the roof may not result in great energy savings as the use of air conditioning increases as the roof is very hot.

The resulting general increase in ambient heat in the living area will also hinder outdoor activities.

Leslie Lim

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