Power generation is one of the major sources of Singapore’s carbon emissions and accounts for about 40% of our emissions today. With our limited capacity to tap on alternative energy sources, we currently rely heavily on imported natural gas to power our nation.
Energy Reset: A More Environmentally Friendly Method to Power Our Nation
Singapore will harness and tap on the four switches to transform our energy supply: Solar, Regional Power Grids, Emerging Low-Carbon Alternatives, and Natural Gas.
Solar remains the most promising renewable energy source for Singapore. We are pressing ahead with ambitious solar deployment plans to achieve our target of at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) by 2030, which will generate enough energy to meet around 3% of Singapore’s total projected electricity demand in that year. As part of our efforts to encourage solar energy deployment, the government has launched various tenders and initiatives such as the SolarNova programme, JTC’s SolarLand and SolarRoof programme and PUB’s floating solar systems. As at Jan 2023, seven tenders equivalent to more than 440 megawatt-peak (MWp) of solar energy have been awarded under the SolarNova programme.
Although solar power is Singapore’s most viable renewable energy alternative, it is not land-efficient. Therefore, its scale-up is fundamentally limited by our land constraints. Nevertheless, the Government will continue to review our longer-term strategies for maximising solar power, and actively invest in R&D and test-bedding to increase efficiency and optimise space utilisation, including through the deployment of floating solar farms and vertical panel installations.
To enhance the resilience of our power grid and mitigate solar intermittency, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) appointed Sembcorp Industries to build, own and operate a utility-scale Energy Storage Systems (ESS). The 285 megawatt-hour (MWh) ESS facility is the largest deployment in Southeast Asia, and the fastest of its size to be deployed, in the world.
Regional Power Grids
Singapore has an ongoing Request for Proposal to import a capacity of 4 GW of low-carbon electricity by 2035, which is expected to make up around 30% of Singapore’s total projected supply.
As a pathfinder to the ASEAN Power Grid, Singapore has begun importing renewable hydropower from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) since June 2022, using existing interconnections via Thailand and Malaysia, as part of the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP).
To further develop and refine our technical and regulatory frameworks for large-scale electricity imports, Singapore has also announced two small-scale trial imports of electricity: 100 MW from Peninsular Malaysia and 100 MW from a solar farm in Pulau Bulan, Indonesia.
The 60 megawatt-peak floating solar photovoltaic farm at Tengeh reservoir has some 120,000 solar panels spanning across 45 hectares, or the equivalent of about 45 football fields. Image courtesy of Sembcorp Industries.
Emerging Low-Carbon Alternatives
Singapore is studying emerging low-carbon technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS), and advanced geothermal systems as possible paths to decarbonising our power sector. Under the Low-Carbon Energy Research (LCER) Funding Initiative, we have awarded S$55 million to support 12 research, development and demonstration projects on low-carbon hydrogen and CCUS, with another S$129 million set aside for the next phase of the programme.
Given its potential as an alternative fuel and industrial feedstock, low-carbon hydrogen has emerged as a key potential decarbonisation pathway for Singapore. Although many low-carbon hydrogen technologies and supply chains are still nascent, Singapore is taking steps to prepare for hydrogen deployment. Our National Hydrogen Strategy is organised around five key thrusts:
- Experimenting with the use of advanced hydrogen technologies at the cusp of commercial readiness through pathfinder projects;
- Investing in research and development (R&D) to unlock key technological bottlenecks;
- Pursuing international collaboration to enable supply chains for low-carbon hydrogen;
- Undertaking long-term land and infrastructure planning; and
- Supporting workforce training and development of our broader hydrogen economy, so that Singaporeans will be ready to capture new opportunities in the global hydrogen economy.
To kickstart our efforts, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) had jointly called for interested parties to submit proposals under an Expression-of-Interest to build, own and operate low or zero-carbon power generation and bunkering solutions in December 2022.
Singapore also published a hydrogen feasibility study report, “Study of Hydrogen Imports and Downstream Applications for Singapore”, which was jointly commissioned by the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS), Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) and Energy Market Authority (EMA) and concluded in June 2021.
Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)
We are also exploring possible CCUS deployment pathways. Carbon dioxide captured could be sequestered in suitable sub-surface geological formations, utilised as feedstock for synthetic fuels or as building materials through mineralisation. Singapore will continue to monitor technological and market developments, and scale up deployment as pathways become techno-economically viable. Read more about CCUS in Singapore.
Since 2000, Singapore has shifted away from less efficient fossil fuels and in turn increased the percentage of natural gas used in electricity generation from 19% to more than 95% today.
Natural gas will continue to be an important fuel for Singapore in the near future as we scale up our other switches. We will continue working with the industry to improve the energy and carbon efficiency of natural gas generation units during this transition.
Among all fossil fuels, natural gas produces the least amount of carbon emissions per unit of electricity. Singapore’s fuel mix allows our emission to be much less carbon intensive than other nations that still use coal as an important part of their power generation. Singapore’s Grid Emission Factor — a measure of the carbon intensity of electricity generation — has fallen from 0.4237 kgCO2/kWh in 2016 to 0.4057 kgCO2/kWh in 2021.
Singapore’s Grid Emission Factor, 2016 to 2021. Source: EMA