Speech by Minister of State for National Development and Trade & Industry Lee Yi Shyan at the opening of PV Asia Pacific Expo and Asian PV Industry Association at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre
Mr Shi Dinghuan (石定环),
Counsellor of State Council and Executive Vice President of Chinese Research Association
Dr Shi Zhengrong (施正荣),
Chairman of the Asia Pacific PV Industry Association
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning. Welcome to the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) where we bring together policymakers and industry leaders to discuss key issues in the energy sector. I am pleased that Singapore was selected to host the inaugural PV Asia Pacific Expo.
Global Trends in Renewable Energy Adoption
2. Countries today are increasingly subjected to volatile energy prices and uncertainties in energy security. This has been marked by rising fossil fuel prices and threats to oil supply due to unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. The global response to climate change has also spurred the search for cleaner forms of energy. In this regard, renewable energy has emerged as a promising alternative to fossil fuels.
3. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the share of renewables in global electricity generation will increase from 20 per cent today to almost a third in 2035. As part of this global shift, investments in solar PV generation are estimated to exceed US$1 trillion. This presents a remarkable opportunity for the solar PV industry, especially in Asia.
Asia Pacific as the New Growth Frontier in Solar
4. The Asia Pacific region is already manufacturing most of the solar modules used globally. The region is also viewed as the next growth frontier in solar power, as Asian countries balance their increasing energy demand with tightening supply and carbon constraints. At present, four countries in this region, namely Japan, China, India and Australia, are among the top ten markets in the world. By the middle of the decade, the region is expected to contribute about 30 per cent of the global solar market. Take China, for example, where domestic solar capacity is projected to double in 2011, and India, where favourable government policies are encouraging large-scale solar installations.
5. At the same time, many European countries are beginning to reduce their incentives for solar in line with its declining cost. The European experience offers valuable lessons to policy makers in this region. To encourage the adoption of renewable energy, it is important to consider a comprehensive set of policy measures, including capability building, investing in R&D, and overcoming market barriers such as a lack of information.
Singapore as a Key Partner for the Solar Industry
6. Singapore’s strengths in electronics and strong connectivity with the Asian sun-belt region give us an advantage in the solar industry, and we are playing a key role in partnering companies to serve the Asian market.
7. We have also invested in several key enablers to build our capabilities in solar manufacturing and system integration.
8. One important enabler is our investments in R&D and technology development. The Energy Innovation Programme Office (EIPO) was recently allocated $195 million for energy R&D, and solar will be an important area of research. The Government also launched a $300 million National Innovation Challenge (NIC) in energy resilience to help Singapore improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and increase energy options over the next 20 years.
9. The vanguard of our R&D investments is the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore or SERIS. Led by Professor Joachim Luther, SERIS has developed in recent years to become one of Asia’s leading solar research institutes. The goal of our R&D efforts is to accelerate the cost and efficiency improvements of solar panels, and improve the integration of PV with the grid.
10. Extending beyond R&D, Singapore also offers a “living laboratory” for companies to test-bed and commercialise innovative energy solutions. In particular, we aim to build up system integration capabilities in the urbanised tropical environment.
11. Over 80 per cent of Singaporeans live in high-rise public housing developments known as HDB estates. Recently, we designated a HDB new town, Punggol, as Singapore’s first Eco-Town, where we will promote sustainable living and demonstrate environmentally-friendly energy solutions. As part of this initiative, HDB recently pioneered a solar leasing scheme where the rooftops of 45 blocks in Punggol were offered as a site for PV systems. This scheme will allow the industry to develop innovative project financing and system integration capabilities, and we intend to do more as the cost of solar energy declines.
Singapore is Well-Positioned to be a Clean Energy Hub for the Region
12. With our strategic location, engineering capabilities and strong financial sector, Singapore is becoming a hub for companies to structure solar projects for the region.
13. Several solar companies have already taken advantage of Singapore as a base to grow their Asia-Pacific markets. For example, MEMC, with over 7,500 staff worldwide and sales of more than US$2 billion in 2010, will be headquartering its global cells and modules business and related R&D operations in Singapore. Heraeus, a leading supplier of solar pastes, will open its new world-scale manufacturing and R&D facility in Singapore this Friday.
14. Some Asian companies are also choosing to internationalise their businesses from Singapore. For example, Trina Solar has chosen to locate its regional headquarters and R&D centre here to manage its Asia-Pacific businesses outside China. They will be announcing more details today, and we are excited about these developments.
Launch of PV Asia Pacific (PVAP) Expo and Asian PV Industry Association (APVIA)
15. Singapore is pleased to host the inaugural PV Asia Pacific (PVAP) Expo. The Expo serves as a gathering of key decision makers and is a marketplace for the exchange of ideas to grow the sector. This is an industry with great potential and it is timely that the PVAP Expo has been organised to tap on the industry’s growth opportunities. With the participation of many of the world’s leaders in the industry, this is also shaping up to be one of the key solar-related events in the region.
16. I am also pleased to announce the establishment of the Asian PV Industry Association (APVIA) in Singapore, the first of its kind in the region. APVIA [pronounced A-P-V-I-A] will bring together Asian industry leaders, research scientists and national solar associations to forge links with policy makers, conduct training and market studies and formulate strategies for growth. As different stakeholders in this region converge here, APVIA will provide a coordinated voice to advance the solar industry in Asia.
17. In conclusion, I am encouraged to see that the solar industry is gaining momentum as we ride this wave of cleantech growth opportunities. I wish all of you a fruitful time at the PV Asia Pacific Expo, and a successful inaugural meeting of APVIA.
18. Thank you.
Source: Ministry of Trade & Industry