Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources & Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the opening of Asia Future Energy Forum and Asia Smart Grid 2012, 23 October 2012
SPEECH BY MS GRACE FU, MINISTER, PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE, SECOND MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES & SECOND MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AT THE OPENING OF ASIA FUTURE ENERGY FORUM AND ASIA SMART GRID 2012, 23 OCTOBER 2012
Mr. Edwin Khew
Chairman, Sustainable Energy Association Singapore
Ms Michelle Lim
Managing Director, REED Exhibitions Singapore
Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen
1. Good morning to all of you, and a warm welcome to our foreign delegates to Singapore. I am very pleased to be here for the Opening of the Asia Future Energy Forum (AFEF) and Asia Smart Grid 2012, held as part of the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2012.
2. Those of you who were here last year may recall that the world’s population hit 7 billion at around the same time. To be precise, it was on 31 October. Some estimate that our world population will reach as high as 10.5 billion by 2050.
3. This development means that there will be even greater demand for resources –for food, water, housing, and of course, energy, which is the focus of the forum today. With increasingly scarce energy resources, we will need to manage our use of energy better in our pursuit of sustainable growth. Energy price poses business risk. With tight resource supply coupled with high extraction costs, there is real value for businesses and society at large to embark on a road of energy conservation, efficiency and diversification. The need to mitigate against climate change adds further pressure on us to manage our environment better, and to switch to cleaner sources of energy.
4. Singapore provides an interesting case study here. We are a small city-state with very little natural resources. Our geographical location and small land mass have placed severe constraints on the use of alternative energy. We do not have vast tracts of land for solar farms, high wind speeds for wind farms, mountains or large rivers for hydropower. Faced with these constraints, Singapore is therefore, to a very large extent, dependent on fuel imports for powering our economy. Despite our alternative energy-disadvantaged position, 80 per cent of Singapore’s fuel mix is natural gas –currently the cleanest fossil fuel available. In comparison, the world’s average take-up of natural gas is about 20 per cent.
5. Improving energy efficiency is therefore a key strategy for Singapore in our sustainable development and climate change mitigation efforts. We have grant schemes in place to encourage businesses to adopt energy efficient technologies and equipment, and to facilitate R&D in these areas. Best practices on energy efficiency are also shared through joint Government-Industry platforms such as the Energy Efficiency National Partnership. In April this year, the Energy Conservation Act was passed in Parliament. This Act, which will come into effect in 2013, will mandate large energy consumers to implement energy management practices. These include appointing an energy manager and submitting energy efficiency improvement plans regularly.
6. The other group of stakeholders that have an important role to play in our drive for energy efficiency are the consumers. It is only with their buy-in that businesses will be motivated to develop more energy-efficient products. Consumers must therefore have access to information to make informed choices on their purchases, and encourage energy-efficient behaviour.
7. In Singapore, we have the Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme which requires labelling of household appliances such as air-conditioners and refrigerators. Such a “disclosure” scheme helps consumers to make energy-efficient choices when purchasing such appliances. This is further augmented by our Mandatory Energy Performance Standards, which encourages businesses to sell only the most energy-efficient appliances. We have seen very encouraging results since the implementation of the labels and the standards in 2008 and 2011 respectively. I was told that 70 per cent of air-conditioners and 90 per cent of refrigerators sold in Singapore last year were the more energy efficient models. In 2013, the standards will be further tightened to spur greater energy savings amongst households. The labelling scheme will also be extended to include inverter air-conditioner models with large cooling capacities.
8. Beyond doing things more efficiently, we also need to be innovative. Given the global energy challenges, countries that are more innovative will be better positioned to address their own national needs and those of the rest of the world.
9. In Singapore, we have been actively promoting the development of clean energy technology. In 2007, the Energy Innovation Programme Office was formed to develop the clean energy industry. We have invested significantly to build a base of skilled talent and expertise in R&D. Today, we have established research institutes such as the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Experimental Power Grid Centre. Several universities such as MIT, UC Berkeley, Cambridge, Technical University Munich and Peking University have also set up centres in Singapore to carry out research in clean energy and sustainability. The National Innovation Challenge on Energy Resilience for Sustainable Growth, developed by the National Research Foundation, aims to develop cost-competitive energy solutions. Taken altogether, we are harnessing these R&D capabilities to develop solutions to address the challenges we face with energy.
10. Singapore is also well placed to serve as a “living laboratory” to test and pilot innovative solutions in real-world settings before commercialisation and large-scale development takes place. Several test-bedding projects are already underway and these include the Intelligent Energy System pilot project and Electric Vehicles Test-Bed. These test-bedding projects are crucial in moving R&D efforts into real world applications for Singapore and beyond.
11. Besides actively promoting energy efficiency and innovation, price signal is powerful in encouraging efficiency and conservation. In Singapore, the government does not subsidise the consumption of resources such as energy and water. We believe that this has helped reduce wastage of precious resources, compel industry and consumers to be more resource-efficient and over time, ensure Singapore grow sustainably.
12. In closing, I would like to add that as the world becomes more dense and urbanised, and as we face more challenges in environmental sustainability, we should see opportunities. Countries that are more successful in green innovations will be better positioned to address not only their own needs but also provide green technologies, and solutions to the rest of the world.
13. The move towards a more energy-sustainable future will require the collaboration of all stakeholders. Policymakers will need to set the right policies, create the right infrastructure and support innovation and R&D. Businesses will need to be motivated to take a long-term view on the sustainability of their operations, and consumers must be able to make informed choices on their purchases and behaviour.
14. I wish all of you fruitful discussions and hope that through this forum, and the Singapore International Energy Week, you can take away innovative ideas and ways to make our world a more sustainable and liveable one. It now gives me great pleasure to declare the Asia Future Energy Forum and Asia Smart Grid 2012 open.