Opening Address by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Opening Ceremony of the Asia Clean Energy Summit Conference and Exhibition, 25 October 2016
OPENING ADDRESS BY MR MASAGOS ZULKIFLI, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES, AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE ASIA CLEAN ENERGY SUMMIT CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION, 25 OCTOBER 2016
Mr Edwin Khew, Chairman, Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore;
Prof Armin Aberle, General Chair of the 26th edition of the International Photovoltaic Science and Engineering Conference;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning. It brings me great pleasure to be here today at the joint-opening of the Asia Clean Energy Summit (ACES) 2016, the PV SEC 26, and the Asian Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (AWTEC). This is the first time that the three conferences are held in tandem with one another and I look forward to the synergies which will be realised over the course of the week.
A New Era of Clean Energy Growth
This is an exciting time for the development of clean energy. With the effects of climate change becoming more apparent, nations and leaders around the world are taking charge to make a change, bringing us into what I like to call a new era of clean energy growth. Leaders from 195 countries had gathered in Paris last December and demonstrated an unprecedented political will to combat climate change by adopting a landmark agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Earlier this month, the double threshold of 55 countries representing 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, needed for the Paris Agreement to enter into force was crossed. At least 77 countries, including the U.S., China, the EU member states, as well as Singapore, have ratified the Paris Agreement, which is now set to enter into force on 4 November.
Clean energy solutions will play a crucial role as countries work towards a carbon-constrained future. There is vast potential for growth and innovation in this space, and countries and cities must ready themselves to ride this wave of opportunity. According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme, 2015 was the first year where more than half of all added power generation capacity came from renewables, excluding large hydro-electric projects, and this prevented the emission of some 1.5 gigatonnes of CO2.
Closer to home, the renewable energy market in Southeast Asia presents immense potential. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), energy demand among the 10 ASEAN countries will increase 50 per cent between now and 2025. The deployment of clean energy sources such as solar and wind can help to mitigate the environmental impacts of this rising energy demand. Moreover, ASEAN states are targeting a 23 per cent renewable penetration in the region by 2025.
Improving energy efficiency and deploying clean and renewable energy is an important part of our climate change mitigation and environmental sustainability efforts. In this light, we aim to contribute to ASEAN’s renewable energy goal and to play our part in addressing climate change. Our Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015, which I will elaborate more on later, and the Climate Action Plan charts our strategy to achieve these goals.
The Climate Action Plan outlines bold steps that Singapore will take to achieve our 2030 carbon mitigation target, as well as to strengthen our resilience to climate change. Close partnership between the Government and businesses is needed to realise these goals, such as in reducing emissions from power generation by raising solar power in our system to 350 MW peak by 2020, which will be an 18 times increase as compared to 2014.
New Clean Energy Investments in Singapore Underscore Importance of Innovation and Close Partnership between Government and Companies in Developing Environmental Sustainability
The paradigm of turning our challenges into opportunities for innovative developments is etched in Singapore’s environmental story. We are a land-scarce, highly dense urban city-state, which gives us very little resources of renewable energy. However, this also creates opportunities for us to innovate and become a global leader in urban solar solutions, thus allowing us to maximise our deployment of renewable energy despite these constraints.
Given our geography, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are a key technology in Singapore’s efforts to harness renewable energy. Floating PV systems, ie those installed over our water bodies, not only help to overcome land constraints, but also have the potential to reduce evaporative losses from our reservoirs. In turn, there could be improved solar panel performance due to the cooling effect of water.
Today, I am pleased to say that we have substantially completed the installation of 10 different floating solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on water at Tengeh Reservoir, as part of Phase 1 of our test-bed. Led by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and PUB, our national water agency, and managed by the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), this pilot aims to test a variety of flotation systems and PV modules to determine the optimal system for Singapore and to study the environmental impact of such systems on our water bodies. The findings from Phase 1, which has a capacity of about 1 MWp, will guide the deployment for a larger 2MWp system in Tengeh Reservoir next year.
This pilot project is first-of-its-kind worldwide because of the sheer variety of floatation systems and PV modules tested, and the rigour involved in studying the environmental impact of floating PV systems. If this pilot successfully establishes the economic viability and environmental sustainability of floating solar PV systems, Singapore will explore the large-scale deployment of these systems.
Such clean energy test-beds in Singapore underscore the importance of innovation and close partnership between the Government and industry in developing environmental sustainability. They allow Singapore to develop a leadership role in renewable energy development in the region.
Singapore aspires to achieve regional leadership in microgrids
Singapore also aspires to achieve regional leadership in microgrids. 134 million people, or 20 per cent of Southeast Asia’s population still lack access to electricity. Regional governments are exploring the possibility of deploying microgrids as an alternative power infrastructure to the main grid. In addition, for grid-connected communities with poor power quality, microgrids are able to help increase the resiliency and stability of the main power supply. A report by Navigant expects that the microgrids market in Asia Pacific will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 32.8 per cent to account for 40 per cent of the global market by 2020.
As such, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), with support from EDB, launched the Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator Singapore (REIDS) platform on Semakau Landfill in 2014 to develop and demonstrate microgrid technologies. On this note, I am happy to announce that the first microgrid has just been deployed and it will enable the National Environment Agency (NEA) to power its infrastructure on Semakau Landfill using electricity generated through zero-carbon means. The use of energy storage and microgrid control technologies will allow the landfill to reduce its reliance on diesel-based power and transition towards renewable energy. I am also pleased to share that REIDS will deploy 3 further microgrids on Semakau Landfill to test the interoperability of various microgrid solutions.
REIDS has attracted a wave of investments from top energy and microgrids players such as Accenture, DNV GL and Schneider Electric. Today, REIDS will be signing new partnerships with Sony on energy storage and LS Group, a major South Korean conglomerate, on microgrids software controls. REIDS has also developed strong traction amongst regional adopters. For instance, Bawah Island Resort on a remote Indonesian island, and Meralco, the largest electric distribution company in the Philippines, will partner REIDS to develop microgrids projects. The REIDS platform will therefore pave the way for similar solutions to be developed and exported to serve the fast-growing microgrids market in Southeast Asia and beyond.
Achieving a Leading Green Economy
The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 (SSB2015) sets out our national vision and plans for the next phase of sustainable development until 2030. It encapsulates our belief that we can have a balanced approach towards attaining the twin goals of growing the economy and protecting the environment. There are five focus areas identified to achieve this vision, one of them is to build A Leading Green Economy.
Our plans for economic growth must take into account the limited resources and land constraints in Singapore. This will enable us to pursue a sustainable and competitive economy over the long term to support the well-being of future generations of Singaporeans. The government will work with businesses to create an ecosystem of supporting infrastructure and policies to reduce resource consumption, carbon emissions, and waste generated from our industries.
Aligned with our interest to develop a sophisticated green economy, Singapore continues to attract investments by Cleantech companies. The latest rounds of investments, promoted by EDB, include that from companies such as i) General Electric’s Grid Solutions business, ii) Conergy, a leading solar project developer, iii) Space-Time Insights, a U.S. data analytics company and iv) Ijenko, a French company that provides cloud-based Internet of Things platform for utilities. These companies will be setting up their regional headquarters in Singapore and invest in energy-related innovation centres.
I will like to conclude by saying that being sustainable should not be considered as an alternative or a trade-off to economic development. Rather, the pursuit of clean and renewable energy development is a venture into greater opportunities and growth, and also a necessary step into the new green era. There is much more that we can do, and I hope that new partnerships and collaborations can be forged and strengthened at this conference and exhibition, as we work together towards a clean and sustainable Singapore. I wish you a pleasant event ahead. Thank you.