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Singapore's energy R&D sector gets S$100m funding boost

The funding will go to two initiatives: Building energy efficiency and green data centre research, according to the Energy Research Development and Demonstration Executive Committee.

SINGAPORE: The Government will pump in S$100 million to fund two initiatives in energy research and development (R&D), specifically in building energy efficiency and research on green data centres, the Energy Research Development and Demonstration Executive Committee announced on Wednesday (July 30).

Ms Yong Ying-I, the committee’s co-chairperson, said the first initiative, the Building Energy Efficiency Research Development and Demonstration Hub, will be implemented and managed by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

The second, the Green Data Centre Research Hub Programme, will be managed by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), she added

The announcements were made at the first Energy Technology Roadmap Symposium, where five national energy technology road maps were revealed. They are in the areas of solar panel research, carbon capture and storage or utilisation, green data centre, building energy efficiency and industry energy efficiency.

One of the five roadmaps concerns carbon emissions. The authorities are studying the possibility of capturing the emissions from Singapore's power plants, refineries and petrochemical industries instead of releasing them into the air.

Carbon dioxide from these emissions can then be separated and stored thousands of metres underground. Experts said the carbon dioxide can also be used to make products like formic acid and urea.

“It can provide an interesting revenue stream, for instance in oil recovery,” said Ms Cecilia Tam from the International Energy Agency. “In countries like Singapore where you don't have suitable storage sites, it is a good opportunity to demonstrate and develop these technologies, but there is a question of scale that will need to be addressed in the longer term."

Apart from carbon capture, storage and utilisation, other energy technology roadmaps include research into solar panels, industry energy efficiency, and building energy efficiency.

Experts estimate about 80 per cent of existing buildings in countries which are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will still be around in 2050.

Closer to home, buildings make up about a third of Singapore's total energy consumption. In both OECD countries and in Singapore, experts said there is an urgent need to either retrofit buildings with energy-efficient features or build greener buildings.

The pursuit of green technology for data centres also received a boost. Singapore currently hosts more than half of South-east Asia's data centre capacity. "We should be able to design data centres to work more efficiently in tropical climates such as Singapore, where there is high temperature and high humidity – and this is quite different from data centre research done in sub-tropic areas,” said Dr Yeah Lean Weng, Director of the National Research Foundation's Energy and Environment Research Directorate.

Organisers said two more technology roadmaps involving e-mobility and solid waste management are also in the works.

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