SINGAPORE: Singapore intends to import up to four gigawatts (GW) of low-carbon electricity by 2035, which will make up about 30 per cent of Singapore's electricity supply in that year.
This comes as Singapore looks to decarbonise its power sector and diversify its energy supply sources to enhance security.
In a media release on Monday (Oct 25), the Energy Market Authority (EMA) announced that it intends to issue two requests for proposal for up to a total of 4GW of low-carbon electricity imports.
These requests will outline the requirements, including how electricity imports should be from low-carbon sources, said EMA.
"Proposals for electricity imported from coal-fired generation sources will not be accepted," it added.
The first request for proposal, which will be launched next month, will import up to 1.2GW of electricity and begin by 2027. The second one is expected to be issued in the second quarter of 2022, and will be for the remaining quantities of electricity imports by 2035.
The requests for proposals for electricity imports will allow Singapore to further its efforts in developing regional power grids and supporting regional decarbonisation, while supporting climate action and diversifying energy sources, said EMA.
Besides the low-carbon electricity imports, the remaining electricity supply will continue to come from various sources, ranging from the current natural gas-fired power plants to solar and waste-to-energy sources.
Speaking at the opening of the Singapore International Energy Week, Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said importing low-carbon energy will be a "key needle mover" in Singapore's energy transition in the near to medium term.
While the country is pushing the boundaries to reduce its carbon footprint, such as enhancing energy efficiency and harvesting solar energy, he said these efforts alone are "not sufficient".
“Increasing the energy efficiency of our natural gas power plants can, at best, reduce carbon emissions by about 10 per cent," he said.
"Even if we maximise all available space in Singapore for solar deployment, and accounting for efficiency improvements, we will still not be able to generate enough power to keep the lights on with solar energy alone.
“Meaningful abatement can only come through tapping on low-carbon energy beyond our shores, and by developing the use of low-carbon alternatives, such as hydrogen, in the longer term.
He added that the transition to renewable energy, including importing electricity, may not mean cheaper electricity.
"While the cost of generation may be lower, the costs of transmission and backup, as well as necessary grid enhancements, will add to overall costs. This is an inevitable but necessary trade-off in the energy transition,” he said.
TRIALS TO PREPARE FOR ELECTRICITY IMPORTS
To prepare for future electricity imports, the authority has been working with various partners over the last two years on trials to import electricity.
These trials allow EMA to assess and refine the technical and regulatory frameworks for importing electricity into Singapore, said the authority.
EMA has appointed YTL PowerSeraya for a two-year trial to import 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity from Peninsular Malaysia, following an earlier request for proposal initiated in March. This is expected to commence in early next year.
“YTL PowerSeraya was selected as its proposal was best able to meet EMA’s requirements to trial electricity imports via the existing interconnector,” said the authority.
EMA is also embarking on a pilot programme to import 100MW equivalent of non-intermittent electricity from a solar farm in Pulau Bulan in Indonesia.
The pilot programme, which is expected to be commissioned by 2024, will be conducted with a consortium led by power generation company PacificLight Power. Electricity will be supplied via a new interconnector that directly connects a solar farm in Pulau Bulan to a PacificLight Power power station in Singapore.
Singapore is also working on a project to import up to 100MW of power from Laos to Singapore via Thailand and Malaysia. Known as the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project, electricity will be supplied using existing interconnections from 2022 to 2023.
Last month, the four countries reaffirmed their commitment towards the project, and said that they looked forward to the early finalisation of all agreements underpinning the project to commence cross-border power trade next year.
"The project will serve as a pathfinder towards realising the broader ASEAN Power Grid vision of multilateral electricity trading in the region," said EMA.
S$55 MILLION AWARDED
While electricity imports will play an important role in Singapore’s energy transition, the country cannot rely on them alone to decarbonise its electricity, said Mr Gan.
“We will also need to explore new energy solutions, to meet both our long-term energy needs and low-emissions target,” he said.
“In this, we adopt a technology neutral approach. We scan the world for the most promising solutions, and work with various parties, public and private, to develop and trial them here.”
On Monday, it was announced that the Government has awarded S$55 million under the Low-Carbon Energy Research Funding Initiative, to support 12 projects on low-carbon energy technology solutions. These include research, development and demonstration projects.
It is an increase from the S$49 million set aside last year, due to “many good proposals” received, said Mr Gan.
The 12 awarded projects will improve the technical and economic feasibility of implementing low-carbon technologies that support the decarbonisation of Singapore’s power and industry sectors, across two key areas of hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage.