SINGAPORE: The success of Kusu Island’s solar panel and desalination project, a collaboration between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), has paved the way for similar initiatives across the Southern Islands.

According to Channel News Asia, Kusu Island’s power generation capabilities, solely reliant on over 350 solar panels in the tidal pond near the Da Bo Gong Temple, have been operational since 2020. The island, which witnesses increased activity during the annual Kusu Pilgrimage, has not used diesel-powered generators for two years, making it a shining example of renewable energy adoption.


The solar panels, equivalent to two basketball courts, produce more than 230 megawatt-hours annually, meeting the energy needs of 52 four-room HDB flats while mitigating 96 metric tons of carbon emissions yearly. Dr Narasimalu Srikanth, programme director at NTU’s Energy Research Institute, explained that the choice of lagoons for panel installation not only preserves valuable land but also enhances energy efficiency by 10 to 15% due to cooling provided by water transpiration.

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The collaboration’s eco-friendly approach extends to the solar panels, featuring marine-safe paint on their legs and ensuring ample space beneath for marine life to navigate freely. This conscientious design aligns with the commitment to environmental preservation while catering to the island’s diverse ecosystem.

The energy generated is stored in batteries and utilised for essential facilities on the island, including the jetty, temple, toilets, and a pioneering desalination system. This system, employing reverse osmosis, produces potable water from seawater, catering to the needs of up to 140 people daily. While ongoing checks are underway to ensure water safety, the successful implementation of this technology provides a blueprint for replication.

Ms Lilian Chua, SLA’s deputy director for estate management, highlighted the historical dependence on water boats and diesel generators since the 1970s. She also stated, “Daily monitoring of water supply and diesel was needed so as to make orders to top up the supplies.”

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She added, “This cost had been rising, hence we engaged NTU to go into research, development, and deployment of a renewable solar (power) and water desalination system.”

Buoyed by the success on Kusu Island, Pulau Hantu Besar, a popular diving spot, is slated to follow suit next year. /TISG