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  Business Times 27 Oct 07
S'pore trumps 200 locations to seal deal for giant solar plant
3b euro Norwegian investment to churn out solar modules
By Chen Huifen

Today Online 27 Oct 07
EDB's $6.3b prize catch
Norwegian firm picks S'pore to set up world's largest solar manufacturing complex
Cheow Xin Yi

Straits Times 27 Oct 07
$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
By Nicholas Fang

Channel NewsAsia 26 Oct 07
Norway's REC to build world's largest solar manufacturing complex in S'pore

SINGAPORE : Singapore has not had a solar energy sector to boast about until Friday.

Renewable Energy Corporation has confirmed that it will build a solar manufacturing plant in Singapore - the largest in the world.

It can produce 1.5 gigawatts a year, or three-quarters of the world's total output last year.

Singapore is basking in the sun for its latest scoop.

The plant will put the country firmly on the world map for clean energy.

Singapore was picked out of a possible 200 locations.

The plant at Tuas View will produce 1.5 gigawatts of solar wafers, cells and modules each year.

Erik Thorsen, President and CEO, Renewable Energy Corporation, says: "The complex will be integrated but it will be developed in stages. We will not turn on 1.5 GW production from one day to another. It's a big complex that we will be developing in stages but it'll be done as fast as we can."

The company's goal is to half the cost of solar modules, bringing it closer to the cost of grid electricity.

With global warming and the rising cost of fuels, it says potential demand for clean energy like solar cannot be measured.

The project is a major win for Singapore and the Economic Development Board says it will spawn a whole new industry in solar energy from research and development and manufacturing to the supply side of the equation.

EC alone will create over 2,000 jobs for skilled personnel from engineers to management.

The EDB says this will ride on Singapore's experience in the semiconductor industry.

Ko Kheng Hua, Managing Director, EDB, says: "Singapore is also at the heart of the Asian sunbelt where energy consumption is rising due economic growth and urbanisation, while at the same time, hundreds of millions do not have access to grid electricity."

Mr Thorsen says: "We will offer training programmes and we are going to collaborate with very dedicated Singapore institutions and universities in order to be able to bring this business and opportunities alive."

The plant will produce solar products that can power several millions of homes.

Today Online 27 Oct 07
EDB's $6.3b prize catch
Norwegian firm picks S'pore to set up world's largest solar manufacturing complex
Cheow Xin Yi

AS THE global spotlight focuses on climate change and renewable sources, Singapore has landed itself the biggest prize in this quest for clean energy the world's largest solar manufacturing complex to be built here within the next five years.

Norwegian company Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) one of the largest producers of solar-grade silicon has chosen Singapore from more than 200 possible locations spanning three continents for the $6.3-billion investment.

When fully operational, the complex would have a production capacity of 1.5 gigawatts, equivalent to three quarters of the global solar energy output last year, which can power several million households.

To be located in Tuas View, the Singapore plant will be developed in stages, and will incorporate wafer, cell and module production for solar panels that produce power from sunlight. REC has seven plants in Norway, the United States and Sweden.

Announcing the decision on Friday with REC during a video conference call, the Economic Development Board's managing director, Mr Ko Kheng Hwa, said the project would catapult Singapore onto the solar industry world map.

"It will be a 'queen bee' attracting a hive of solar activities to Singapore big companies and young start-ups engaged in R&D, manufacturing and innovation and the supplier ecosystem," he said, adding that the project alone will open up more than 2,000 jobs in engineering and management.

While Singapore cannot claim to have the cheapest labour, land or electricity, REC president and chief executive officer Erik Thorsen said that access to technology and Research & Development activities, among others, nailed it for the Republic.

"There are a billion people around Singapore, which hopefully will have a need for solar energy systems in various forms," he said. "The whole of South-east Asia is obviously a highly-prioritised market area for us in the future ... It is the combination of all factors and reliability on top of that which had been important for us in this decision process."

The investment also comes on the back of the Government's announcement in March that clean energy, with emphasis on solar energy, would be developed in Singapore as a key growth area for the economy.

It is expected to create some 7,000 jobs by 2015 and contribute an estimated $1.7 billion to the country's gross domestic product.

Mr Thorsen said that the solar panels produced here would be exported globally, with the hope that Singapore will start the ball rolling by being a "model user" and sending out a "strong signal" on REC's products.

"You have so much free space in Singapore at least on the rooftops," he added.

Straits Times 27 Oct 07
$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
By Nicholas Fang

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.'

Business Times 27 Oct 07
S'pore trumps 200 locations to seal deal for giant solar plant
3b euro Norwegian investment to churn out solar modules
By Chen Huifen

(SINGAPORE) More than 200 locations in 18 countries were considered, but Singapore has trumped them all and is now poised to build the world's largest integrated solar plant on its shores.

The plant will have the capacity to make solar modules with an annual output of 1.5 gigawatt (GW) - enough to power several million households.

It stems from a projected investment of three billion euros (S$6.3 billion) by Norway's Renewable Energy Corp ASA (REC) - a world leader in the solar energy field. As oil prices climb and environmental concerns grow, solar energy is expected to become increasingly popular.

'It's a very significant project,' said Economic Development Board managing director Ko Kheng Hwa. 'It's a queen bee that will help us kick-start this whole new industry.'

In a video conference with the media yesterday, REC president and CEO Erik Thorsen said that the new plant in Singapore will help the company meet rising global demand for solar energy, which is projected to hit 20 GW in 2010. Worldwide power output by solar products was a mere 2 GW last year.

'So our expansion is critical in order to realise this demand,' he added.

The Singapore plant will be located in a greenfield site in Tuas View. It will make wafers, photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules.

BT understands that a sizeable plot of land - larger than what an average pharmaceutical plant needs - has been allocated for this project. Besides manufacturing, the site will also incorporate infrastructure and support facilities, an onsite supplier park, and space for expansion, R&D, process innovation and factory automation development activities.

The plant will hire up to 3,000 workers. Of that, more than 2,000 will be highly-skilled positions, such as electronics and mechanical engineers, technicians, specialists in IT, physics and other sciences.

Although solar technology has been around for some time, the industry has yet to take off globally, primarily due to its high cost compared to existing prices of electricity. A number of countries like Germany offer government subsidies to offset the higher costs and encourage technological advancements in the field.

'The development of this site will enable us to continue expanding in a cost efficient manner and will support REC's ambitious cost target,' said Mr Thorsen. 'Our future cost position will determine our ability to deliver solar products that can compete with traditional energy sources in the sunny areas of the world without government incentives.'

The choice of Singapore was decided after nine months of screening more than 200 possible sites in 18 countries on three continents. Twenty locations were shortlisted. EDB even deployed three teams in Singapore, Europe and the US for the courtship, before a team was sent to Oslo in August for a 'beauty parade called by REC for the final shortlisted sites'.

EDB is providing a comprehensive support package, but Mr Ko said that that was not the tipping point for REC's decision in choosing Singapore.

'Yes, we have given incentives but our incentives are not the best compared to the competition,' said Mr Ko. 'And we cannot compete based just on incentives.' It was the total value proposition offered by Singapore that clinched the deal for it.

Acknowledging this, REC's Mr Thorsen said that Singapore represents the ideal balance between financial return, risks and future opportunity. It cannot claim to have the cheapest labour or land, but 'it's a combination of all factors and reliability . . . which have been important in this decision process'.

REC is expected to invest up to three billion euros over the next five years. The investment is seen as a boost to the nascent clean energy industry that Singapore sees as a key growth area.

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