s the world transitions towards a low-carbon future, it has thrown up fresh opportunities in clean energy. A 2017 International Renewable Energy Agency study shows that clean energy is one of the fastest growth sectors in terms of employment and investment.
Companies are quick to capitalise on the growth opportunities to innovate and transform. The Singapore Power Group (SP) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with JTC to develop a smart energy grid in Punggol Digital District, home to technology firms in key growth sectors such as digital and cybersecurity. Under the MOU, JTC and SP will drive the design and integration of smart energy solutions in the areas of renewable energy and electric mobility.
More clean energy companies are also choosing to invest in Singapore. Global utilities such as ENGIE and EDF are establishing their Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore and embarking on exciting projects. “Through its District Cooling Centre of Expertise, ENGIE will support the development of new district cooling projects in Singapore and in the Asia-Pacific region, while EDF is developing microgrid solutions on Semakau Island in partnership with the Nanyang Technological University to serve the Southeast Asian market,” said Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Asia Clean Energy Summit Conference and Exhibition in October 2018.
Water – Still a Strategic Issue
In spite of the success in developing its water resources and diversifying its supply sources, water remains an existential threat for Singapore. Climate change is an ongoing threat, and supply from Malaysia, one of Singapore’s ‘four taps’, is vulnerable to the vagaries of political ties.
The country’s water needs are continuing to grow in tandem with the population and economic expansion. By 2060, it is estimated that Singapore’s water use will double from today’s 430 million gallons per day, with industries accounting for 70% of the requirement.
While Singapore has ramped up its water production capacity, it has to invest more to achieve water self-sufficiency and be more climate-resilient. Today, it has five NEWater plants, and three desalination plants, with two more on the way. Singapore is also building a S$6.5 billion underground sewage tunnel system to serve as a conduit for used water islandwide. This will boost water recycling and free up space in the land-scarce country.
Singapore has intensified effort into making more efficient use of water. A 30% price hike was implemented under a two-phase programme – July 2017 and 2018 – the first in 17 years. The result was promising. Daily consumption per person fell from 148 litres in 2016 to 143 litres in 2017, more than meeting the Government’s 2020 per capita water use target of 147 litres per person. Singapore’s next target is to reduce water use to 140 litres per person by 2030.
Technology can be an enabler. A field trial of smart shower devices showed that access to real-time data on water usage can motivate users to adjust their habits.
Another key area to monitor is industrial water demand, which accounts for some 55% of current demand and is expected to increase to 70% in 2060.
The PUB has also stepped up efforts to manage industrial water usage. Through the mandatory water efficiency management plan, it has helped heavy consumers of water to better understand their usage patterns, so they can assess how to better manage and optimise their water usage.
Some big firms such as Nestle and Unilever have cut the water required to manufacture one tonne of product by between 40 and 45% over the past decade. They expect to reduce it by another 30% by 2030.
“With the appropriate policies, it is possible to contain total water requirements to about 20% more than at present by 2060,” a Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) spokesman said.