Singapore exploring partnerships to capture, store carbon dioxide as part of low-carbon push: Tan See Leng
SINGAPORE: As Singapore lacks suitable known geological formations needed to store carbon dioxide permanently underground, it is exploring partnerships with companies and other countries to do so .
“Climate change is an existential challenge for Singapore,” said Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng on Tuesday (Jul 27).
He was responding to parliamentary questions by Dr Tan Wu Meng (PAP-Jurong) on the current state of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) and the assessment of potential technological advancements in the sector for the next decade.
According to Dr Tan See Leng, who is also the Minister for Manpower, one of Singapore’s key thrusts of its enhanced 2030 Nationally Determined Contributions and Long-term Low Emissions Development Strategy is to adopt advanced low-carbon technologies to decarbonise its economy. These technologies include CCUS and low-carbon hydrogen.
CARBON CAPTURE, UTILISATION AND STORAGE
A “small number” of pathways for CCUS are at a technologically advanced stage, but they require further development to be commercially viable in Singapore, said the minister.
Carbon capture and storage is one of these pathways. While there are more large-scale projects developed internationally, Singapore faces challenges in deploying it domestically as it does not have known geological formations suitable for the permanent storage of carbon dioxide underground, he said.
“We are therefore exploring partnerships with companies and other countries with suitable geological formations to enable carbon dioxide storage opportunities.”
Carbon capture and storage is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide before it can be released into the atmosphere.
The Government is also exploring carbon capture and utilisation pathways, where carbon dioxide is captured and recycled, said the minister. The recycled carbon dioxide can be used to produce reclamation aggregates or building materials.
“There are a number of companies developing test-beds for use in Singapore and examples of commercial-scale operations in other countries,” said Dr Tan See Leng.
READ: Carbon capture technology an important pillar for Southeast Asia to tackle climate change, say experts
In addition, captured carbon dioxide can be used to manufacture synthetic fuels and chemicals such as kerosene and methanol. They can be used as aviation and marine fuels.
“However, most pathways for synthesising fuels or chemicals from carbon dioxide are not mature and they are relatively nascent,” said the minister. Some are more expensive than conventional methods of production, some remain at lab-scale and others require “significant amounts” of energy in the form of low-carbon hydrogen.
Dr Tan Wu Meng also asked questions on the state of Singapore’s low-carbon hydrogen sector.
“Low-carbon hydrogen is a key technology for Singapore to decarbonise,” said Dr Tan See Leng, adding that a recent feasibility study showed that hydrogen could decarbonise maritime, electricity generation, heavy transportation and some industrial process.
“However, until CCUS is commercially viable, Singapore cannot produce low-carbon hydrogen at scale,” he said. As such, Singapore is exploring other sources.
A key challenge of scaling up the supply of hydrogen is the high storage and transportation costs, said Dr Tan See Leng. It is thus a “significant engineering challenge” to transport and store hydrogen in a commercially viable manner.
READ: Singapore looking to develop, deploy low-carbon technologies as part of climate action efforts
Listing several methods of transportation, the minister noted that there is currently no global consensus on which method would dominate in the future or when the long-distance transport of hydrogen and the processes to liberate hydrogen from hydrogen carriers might become viable.
In a supplementary question, Assoc Prof Jamus Lim (WP-Sengkang) asked if the Government would consider public transportation as part of its low-carbon push.
Dr Tan See Leng said this was something that the Government could “potentially” look at on a “limited basis”, depending on the proposals it receives.
However, he added that the Government is “actively pursuing” renewable energy imports from ASEAN countries and countries that have “maximum geographical advantage” in producing renewable energy with “very low carbon or zero carbon”.
“Those are the immediate short-term measures that we will be moving forward to reduce our carbon footprint,” he said.