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Sustainability

Singapore eyes low-carbon hydrogen to achieve climate target earlier, reaching net-zero by 2050

If technology continues to advance, hydrogen could supply up to half of Singapore's needs by 2050.

04:17 Min
Singapore is looking to pursue low-carbon hydrogen as part of its decarbonisation efforts, as the country races to bring forward its net-zero target. Marcus Tan with more.

SINGAPORE: Singapore is looking to pursue low-carbon hydrogen as part of its decarbonisation efforts, as the country races to bring forward its net-zero target.

On Tuesday (Oct 25), Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong announced that Singapore will raise its climate target to achieve net-zero by 2050 as part of its long-term low emissions development strategy. Previously, the country said it would do so “as soon as viable in the second half of the century”.

Speaking at the Singapore International Energy Week, Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister, added that Singapore will reduce emissions to around 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2030, after peaking emissions earlier.

Currently, Singapore’s Nationally Determined Contribution statement pledges to peak emissions at 65 MtCO2e around 2030.

The difference is equivalent to reducing Singapore's current transport emissions by two-thirds, Mr Wong said. 

In a joint press release on Tuesday, the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) and the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) said the targets are contingent on technological advances as well as the economic viability of low-carbon technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS).

It will also depend on effective international collaboration in areas such as carbon credits and renewable energy imports, the release said.

The revised pledges come ahead of this year’s UN climate summit, or COP27, which will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt next month. So far, a few countries including US, Australia, and Canada have updated their pledges.

According to a report published by the global nonprofit research group World Resources Institute (WRI) last week found that the latest pledges made by countries would only reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases by 7 per cent from 2019 levels by 2030.

This is "woefully inadequate" to avert a rise in global temperatures that scientists say will worsen droughts, storms and floods, the report said.

In order to meet the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius, the report said countries must strengthen their targets by about six times or at least 43 per cent.

NATIONAL HYDROGEN STRATEGY

In a separate press release, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said hydrogen could supply up to half of Singapore's needs by 2050.

Besides providing an alternative for domestic emissions, low-carbon hydrogen and hydrogen-derived fuels can also be used in the maritime and aviation sectors, both of which are carbon-intensive, it said.

To prepare for hydrogen deployment, MTI said Singapore will experiment with the use of advanced hydrogen technologies as well as conduct research and development work to advance them further.

Mr Wong said the focus will be on technologies that have the potential to be commercially viable and have multiple applications, citing low-carbon ammonia as an example. 

As a hydrogen carrier, ammonia has emerged as a possible fuel for power generation and a low- carbon marine fuel in recent years, he said.

To kickstart Singapore's hydrogen efforts, the Government will issue an Expression of Interest for a small-scale commercial project utilising low-carbon ammonia for power generation.

With this, Singaporeans may start to have access to electricity generated from low-carbon hydrogen from 2027, he said.

Mr Wong added that an additional S$129 million will be set aside for the Low Carbon Energy Research Programme, with a significant amount to be directed towards projects that can help Singapore import, handle, and utilise hydrogen and its carriers safely and at scale. 

Set up two years ago, a total of S$55 million of research funding has been awarded through the project to date. 

Beyond this, the Government will also work closely with industry and international partners to enable the formation and scaling up of supply chains for low-carbon hydrogen.

Land and infrastructure plans will also be developed to support the mass deployment of hydrogen. This includes building infrastructure to import, store and transform the hydrogen into power, said the ministry.

With the adoption of hydrogen expected to bring about new economic opportunities for Singapore, MTI said it will work with the industry and the education sector to help prepare Singaporeans for the global hydrogen economy.

DECARBONISING PUBLIC SECTOR

To pave the way for decarbonisation in Singapore, the public sector will peak emissions around 2025 and achieve net-zero emissions around 2045 under its sustainability movement, GreenGov.SG.

This will be done by procuring electricity from clean energy sources as well as stepping up research and development investments in areas including CCUS. 

In addition, all new buildings as well as existing ones that undergo major retrofitting works will be required to achieve Green Mark Platinum Super Low Energy standards or equivalent. This means achieving 60 per cent energy savings above 2005 baseline levels.

The upcoming Jurong Lake District, which will be the largest mixed-use business district outside the city centre, will aim to achieve net-zero emissions for new developments around 2045.

Besides having super low and zero-energy buildings, the 410ha district will also maximise solar energy deployment on buildings and vacant land as a transitory measure to offset its emissions while the national grid is being decarbonised over time.

Source: CNA/vl(ta)
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