limate change is one of the major environmental challenges of our time. In the fight against climate change, Singapore has been steadily progressing in the area of adopting clean energy solutions as well as improving energy efficiency.
At the Asia Clean Energy Summit 2020 held on 27 October 2020, Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, shared Singapore’s efforts in these areas, which she described as the two important strategies to mitigate climate change.
Adopting clean energy solutions
On the front of clean energy solutions, solar energy remains the most economically viable renewable energy source for Singapore given that there are limited renewable energy options from geothermal, wind and hydropower. With an average annual solar irradiance of 1,580 kWh/m2/year and about 50 percent more solar radiation than temperate countries, solar photovoltaic (PV) generation has the greatest potential for wider deployment in Singapore.
In the first quarter of 2020, Singapore achieved its 2020 solar deployment target of 350 megawatt-peak (MWp), equivalent to powering about 60,000 households for a year. Looking ahead, Singapore is now setting its sights on harnessing at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar deployment by 2030, which is sufficient to power about 350,000 households for a year.
By 2040, all vehicles are expected to be run on cleaner energy, whilst internal combustion engine vehicles will be phased out by then.
Floating PV systems
With limited land spaces for solar deployment, Singapore has explored alternative spaces such as water bodies. The feasibility of deploying floating PV systems on reservoirs was tested some five years ago on Tengeh Reservoir by Singapore’s National Water Agency, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and the Economic Development Board (EDB), and it was found that floating solar PV systems performed 5 to 15 percent better than conventional rooftop solar systems. This provided support to PUB’s plans to deploy large-scale floating solar PV systems on reservoirs to reduce their carbon footprint and mitigate climate change. In August 2020, PUB and Sembcorp started constructing floating solar PV system on Tengeh Reservoir. When completed, the energy generated will power all of PUB’s local water treatment plants, offsetting their annual energy needs by 7 percent.
Marine Floating PV solutions
Exploring another frontier beyond in-land water bodies, near-shore and offshore floating PV systems are being considered. Moving floating PV into the sea represents the next big step forward for floating PV system, and this opens up many new opportunities for land-scarce Singapore to generate clean solar power at scale.
At the 4th International Floating Solar Symposium 2020, Solar Energy Institute of Singapore (SERIS) announced a collaboration with Fred. Olsen Renewables (FOR) to develop unique competence in offshore and near-shore floating PV systems in marine / salt-water conditions. The partnership aims to compare various marine floating PV solutions for different climatic conditions. Subsequently to be expanded to include additional partners, the collaboration will ally with floating PV technology providers that want to test and qualify their technology for use in marine conditions. This will speed up the emergence of new technologies in the areas of near-shore and offshore floating PV systems in Singapore. Fred. Olsen companies, which are based out of Norway, have more than 170 years of global experience in shipping, offshore construction, offshore energy production, and renewable power production.
Ramp up solar capacity
To further fuel the nation’s R&D eco-system, the entry of Maxeon Solar Technologies into Singapore was much welcomed at the end of 2019. The leader in solar innovation with access to over 900 patents and two best-in-class differentiated panels, chose Singapore to establish their global head office and R&D centre to develop the next-generation solar panel technologies.
Maxeon shared plans to grow their solar panel production capacity from about 1.5 gigawatts in 2019 to between 5 and 5.5 gigawatts by 2021 or 2022. This will support Singapore’s ambition to ramp up installed solar capacity of 2 gigawatt by 2030.
Solar power solution
In early 2020, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Community Care and Community Recovery Facilities had to be built to house recovering patients, 660 REC Alpha Series solar panels were installed at the recovery facility at Changi Exhibition Centre. To quickly set up a facility where there were no power lines, REC provided a solar power solution that changed the situation significantly for the better. The solar panels not only reduced carbon emissions, fumes and noise created by mobile diesel generators, but also produced about 20 percent of the facilities’ projected energy needs, which contributed towards a better recovery environment for patients.
Improving energy efficiency
Given the country’s limited access to clean energy, the other key strategy in Singapore’s journey to sustainability is the smart and efficient use of energy. Since the Energy Conservation Act (ECA) came into effect in 2013, companies regulated under the Act achieved an average annual energy efficiency improvement rate of 1 percent from 2014 to 2018. What this translates to in carbon abatement terms, is the reduction of 250 kilo-tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year — similar to removing 70,000 cars from the road.
Continued support is being given towards energy efficiency efforts, through grants such as EDB’s Resource Efficiency Grant for Energy, and the Energy Efficiency Fund by National Environment Agency (NEA). To date, over $100 million have been committed to help local manufacturers in their energy efficiency projects.
In its pursuit to improve energy efficiency, Singapore is looking at a circular economy approach. There is no other endeavour that shines the way for a circular approach to resource management than the Tuas Nexus facility.
On 8 September 2020, NEA and PUB announced the commencement of the first phase of construction of the landmark Tuas Nexus facility, which integrates the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) with an Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF). When operational in 2025, Tuas Nexus will be known as the first integrated water reclamation and solid waste treatment facility, and the first in the world! By co-digesting food waste and water sludge, and combusting the biogas produced, not only will the electricity generated sustain the operations of the facility, there will be excess energy to power up to 300,000 four-room HDB flats. The harnessed synergies from Tuas WRP and IWMF is expected to result in carbon savings of more than 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking 42,500 cars off Singapore’s roads, and bringing Singapore one step closer to realising the vision of a Zero Waste Nation.
Growing zero-carbon businesses
To help businesses drive sustainability agenda, a partnership between ENGIE Factory and EDB New Ventures was born in 2019, to build a portfolio of new, zero-carbon startups in the next three years. These new ventures will accelerate the zero-carbon transition, boost employment in a critical and growing segment and establish Singapore as a hub for sustainability innovation in the region.
Since its launch in early 2019, ENGIE Factory has initiated seven new cleantech ventures and tested 10 technology solutions from existing startups.
Carbon capture, utilisation and sequestration system
Efforts have also been pumped into studying emerging technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and exploring the potential of tapping on regional power grids to access sustainable energy resources. On 2 July 2020, an agreement was inked between Keppel Data Centres, Chevron, Pan-United and Surbana Jurong to jointly develop “mature carbon capture technologies, coupled with novel technologies that utilise cryogens, membranes and hydrogen. Called carbon capture, utilisation and sequestration (CCUS), the system essentially works by extracting planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the air so they can be stored underground or used to create other products, such as concrete or fuel, and offering potential in growing new industries. CCUS technologies are expected to help Singapore achieve its climate goal of halving emissions from its 2030 peak by 2050 and achieving net zero emissions before the turn of the next century.
“This is a prime period for companies and policymakers to leverage opportunities in harnessing clean energy and improving energy efficiency, as we push for a green recovery post-COVID-19. Fighting climate change and making the transition towards a greener economy will require a concerted whole-of-nation effort by industries, individuals and the Government. Together, we can game change climate change.”
Ms Grace Fu,
Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
at the Opening Ceremony of the Asia Clean
Energy Summit 2020