Singapore Government sets aside S$49 million for low-carbon energy research

Singapore Government sets aside S$49 million for low-carbon energy research

The Singapore Government has set aside S$49 million to fund low-carbon energy research and test-bedding efforts in hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage. Making his opening remarks at the Singapore International Energy Week on Monday (Oct 26), Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said Singapore hopes its green initiatives and energy management system can be "an inspiration to the urban societies across the world". Isabelle Lim reports.

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Government has set aside S$49 million to fund low-carbon energy research and test-bedding efforts in hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage. 

Making his opening remarks at the Singapore International Energy Week on Monday (Oct 26), Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said: “Hydrogen has tremendous potential as yet another clean form of energy, if not, cleaner form of energy.

“We'll be looking to see how we can combine the use of hydrogen with our existing LNG (liquified natural gas) mix for us to have an even cleaner energy mix for Singapore.”

Singapore signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia on Monday to see how they can “drive low-carbon emissions solutions”, including in hydrogen, carbon capture utilisation and storage solutions and renewable energy trade, Mr Chan said.  

SIEW MOU signing Singapore Australia
Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing with Australia's Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor at an MOU signing for cooperation on low-emissions solutions. (Photo: Energy Market Authority)

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Economic Development Board (EDB), the Energy Market Authority (EMA), the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) are involved in the Low-Carbon Energy Research Funding Initiative, said the agencies in a separate media release.

The initiative will be “co-driven” by EDB and EMA to ensure that the projects are relevant to the industrial and power sectors, with A*STAR as the implementing agency on behalf of the Government, the release said.

“Research projects could include technologies that enable the effective capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) from low-concentration emission sources in the industrial and power sectors, and to convert the CO2 into useful products such as building materials, reclamation sand and synthetic fuels,” the agencies added.

“Test-beds for emerging technologies, such as the blending of low-carbon hydrogen with natural gas in combined cycle gas turbines, will reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation.

“These test-beds could yield insights in applying low carbon technologies in Singapore’s context, and facilitate future deployment.”

LIVING GREEN

Mr Chan said Singapore hopes its green initiatives and energy management system can be "an inspiration to the urban societies across the world".

“We will have to review the way we consume, produce stuff for ourselves. And very importantly, we have to look at how we provide transport solutions for the next lap of our growth," said the minister.

"Big changes start with small steps. To achieve that high-quality lifestyle that we aspire, let’s start with looking at consumption."

Singapore’s urban design needs to incorporate the latest science, technology and design methods to reduce the usage of resources, he added. 

“And very importantly, in a tropical climate like Singapore, to reduce the cooling need by leveraging on the natural ventilation that comes with our climate.” 

In choosing products, consumers “also have a role to play”, said Mr Chan. 

“We can all choose products that are made with less wastage, materials that are recycled or sustainably sourced. In fact, this is a growing market for an environmentally more conscious population in Asia,” he added. 

SIEW 2020 Keynote Address Chan Chun Sing (2)
Minister for Trade and Industry giving his opening remarks on Oct 26, 2020 at the Singapore International Energy Week 2020. (Photo: Energy Market Authority)

In production, digitalisation increases the efficiency of what Singapore can achieve, with the same amount of resources used previously, said the minister.

“The other is the advent of additive manufacturing, or what we call 3D printing. But it goes beyond 3D printing. Additive manufacturing combines with data and digitalisation, has the potential to revolutionise the way things are produced and the amount of resources that are required to do so,” he added. 

As for transport, the Government will review three aspects in the coming year, mainly “how we move people, how we move logistics, and how we electrify our transport fleet”, said Mr Chan. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new opportunities for people to collaborate, he said.

"Together with the data that we have now, for Singapore, as a small little island, we can review the entire Singapore urban design, where we can minimise the need for people to move from place to place, be it for work or play, and yet at the same time, increase the quality of interactions."

Reiterating that Singapore intends to phase out internal combustion engines by 2040, Mr Chan said that for every combustion engine that is phased out and converted to an electric vehicle, emissions can potentially be reduced by 50 per cent. 

“That is a huge boost to our efforts to provide a cleaner environment, a higher quality environment for our people," said Mr Chan.

"But beyond electrification of our transport fleet, today we are already in consultation with partners to look at the next lap of electrification for the aviation and the maritime fleet,” he added. 

“No doubt these are still nascent ideas, but these also have the potential to revolutionise the way we transport people and goods around the world, within a city, with much greater efficiency and much lower emissions.”

GREEN POWER

Singapore has "one of the cleanest ways" of producing energy from fossil fuels, said Mr Chan. About 95 per cent of Singapore's energy production comes from the burning of liquified natural gas.

“This is a high (benchmark), but I think we can do better,” he added. 

Solar power is “probably the most plausible way” for Singapore to have a greater proportion of its energy mix from renewable sources, he added. 

“And this is why, from last year’s target, we are going to bring forward, we're going to front load, our production of solar. We aspire to have the public service sector to take this lead,” said the minister, adding that the Government will “try to achieve” 1.5 gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar deployment by 2025.

Singapore’s current target for solar energy, announced in 2019, is to produce enough power by 2030 to meet the annual needs of about 350,000 households, or at least 2 GWp of power.

“This year, we want to front load it, notwithstanding COVID-19, by bringing forward the deployment of solar, and we will catalyse this through public sector initiatives,” said Mr Chan. 

“With greater reliance on renewable energy sources, some other challenges will arise. We have to fix the intermittency problem, and storage will be one key issue that we have to resolve.” 

Singapore recently deployed its first utility-scale energy storage system at a substation in Woodlands, with a capacity equivalent to powering more than 200 four-room HDB households for a day, EMA said in October.

READ: Singapore deploys energy storage systems to help maintain reliable source of solar power supply

To help address the intermittent nature of solar energy, EMA and Keppel Offshore and Marine have jointly awarded a research grant to a consortium led by Envision Digital on energy storage systems, Mr Chan announced. 

This will see the deployment of Singapore’s first stacked energy storage system. If successful, it can potentially "save 40 per cent of the land take for a typical energy storage solution", he added.

With more solar energy, Singapore will also have a more decentralised energy grid, said the minister.

“It will be quite different from the previous and existing grid, where we have producers pumping electrons to the users. Instead, in the next generation, we can see and envision a situation where consumers can also, at certain points in time, be producers of energy that feeds back the electrons into the decentralised grid,” said Mr Chan. 

SIEW 2020 Keynote Address Chan Chun Sing (1)
Minister for Trade and Industry giving his opening remarks on Oct 26, 2020 at the Singapore International Energy Week 2020. (Photo: Energy Market Authority)

“To run this decentralised grid and to balance it in real time, we will need new technologies. 

"The good news is, today, we have such technologies in digital and if we can leverage on this, work closely with our research community, we will be able to have a new grid architecture for Singapore in the next 50 years that moves away from the centralised grid to a decentralised grid with dynamic load balancing throughout the day, throughout the weeks.” 

GREEN MARKET STRUCTURES

Singapore will need to make sure it has the "right market structures, right incentives to drive the right behaviour in a sustainable way over the long term", said Mr Chan.

To give energy producers “greater certainties”, EMA will be introducing a forward capacity market, said the minister, with more details to be announced soon. 

Singapore will also explore how it can strengthen the regional power grid architecture, he added. 

“We will kick this off by importing 100 megawatts of electricity imports for a trial period of two years, to see how the market works, to see how the technical challenges can be overcome,” said Mr Chan. 

“This will allow the region to share the clean energy sources that different countries may have, and we will start this with Malaysia. Once the concept takes off, we’ll be able to extend this to other regional players.” 

READ: Singapore to import electricity from Malaysia under two-year trial

Singapore will be part of the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project, the minister noted, describing it as a “pathfinder” to a broader ASEAN power grid system. 

Concluding his speech, Mr Chan said: "We have every intention to green our consumption by living green, to green our production by making sure that our grid is more efficient, and we want to work with like-minded partners to capitalise the global market for more sustainable solutions."

He said Singapore is not going "to wait for the COVID-19 (pandemic) to pass by and return to the good old days".

"Instead of waiting, we are going to start today. Learning to live in a COVID world, investing in the long term for both a COVID and a post COVID world, the plans that we've announced today will not be realised in the next one, two years," he added. 

"The plans that we have laid out today will also not be just for the next one, two years. Instead, we have a long term vision."

Singapore is determined to "overcome our energy challenge".

"And bit by bit, we will put in all the building blocks necessary to make sure that Singapore will be a bright green spark, where our solutions, our ideas, our collaborations can be an inspiration for the world to realise this simple vision,” Mr Chan added. 

Source: CNA/mi

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