Capabilities and Innovation Key to Keeping Energy Options Open, say International Experts
International energy experts today supported Singapore’s intentions to keep its options open in meeting its future energy needs, against the backdrop of great energy and economic uncertainty. They highlighted the importance of building capabilities to seize opportunities and prepare for challenges arising from global and regional energy developments. They also emphasised the need for innovation across policy initiatives, market measures and technology development.
The energy experts are members of the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s International Advisory Panel (IAP) on Energy, which is chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry, S Iswaran. The panel met in Singapore for its third biennial session.
Keeping Options Open by Building Capabilities
The IAP agreed that it was important for Singapore to remain open to all energy options to meet its future energy needs. Singapore should continue to diversify its energy sources to enhance its energy security. Technological advancements, global policy and market developments in areas such as unconventional gas and climate change could impact Singapore’s energy options.
The IAP noted that the unconventional gas developments in North America will have significant impact on gas supplies and markets in the rest of the world. The IAP encouraged Singapore to closely monitor these developments. The IAP commended Singapore on the execution of its Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) strategy which was discussed at the first IAP meeting in 2008. The IAP noted that with the completion of the LNG terminal, Singapore was well-positioned to seize the opportunities arising from the developments in the global gas market. For example, the LNG terminal could enable trading opportunities to take off, and could enhance our position as a potential LNG trading hub by facilitating greater price transparency in the Asian gas market through information sharing and dialogue.
The IAP agreed with the conclusions of the Singapore government’s nuclear energy pre-feasibility study that while currently available nuclear technologies were not yet suitable for deployment in Singapore, it was still important to keep abreast of developments and remain open to all energy options. The IAP also agreed with Singapore’s decision to strengthen its capabilities to understand nuclear science and technology, and to develop a strong safety culture and know-how. This was an important step to prepare for regional nuclear energy developments, and also to contribute credibly and actively to regional and international discussions and cooperation on nuclear safety. In this regard, the IAP noted that nuclear safety should be a priority research area.
The IAP also agreed that Singapore should continue to develop and advance energy sources such as solar and waste-to-energy already under implementation. Energy efficiency should also continue to be a key pillar going forward. Singapore should continue to seek and promote regional energy interconnectivity, in order to tap on these and other energy options which may not be feasible or available in Singapore. In addition, the IAP recommended that Singapore could leverage on its status as a global financial hub to develop services and investments in clean technology in the region.
Pursuing New Frontiers in Energy
The IAP agreed with Singapore’s approach of investing in energy R&D, innovation and test-bedding. The IAP noted that in recent years, the world had seen significant improvements in the area of smart grids, for integration and management of variable, fluctuating and distributed generation sources. In addition, as demand for energy and fossil fuels increases, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) will be important. However, investment in CCS will be limited in the absence of a sufficient and widely used carbon pricing regime.
Summarising the discussion, Mr Iswaran said “The energy landscape is continually evolving. We need to be prepared for an uncertain energy future by keeping our options open, building capabilities, and steadily exploring emerging technologies. This can also develop a vibrant energy sector in Singapore, and ensure that Singapore’s energy supply remains secure and competitively-priced. I thank the IAP for their keen insights, which will be most useful in navigating the course ahead.”