The 15th Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) kicked off with a bang on 25 October 2022 and the flagship Asia Clean Energy Summit (ACES) also got off with a resounding start on 26 October 2022. These are key events in Singapore for the power industry to congregate, learn of the latest policies, reunite with friends in the industry and make new connections.

Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW)

SIEW’s keynote message this year was delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong in a well-attended Singapore Energy Lecture. Singapore’s energy transition is on track to achieving net zero by 2050 and Minister Wong unveiled a much-welcomed ambitious new climate target for Singapore.

Energy 2050 Committee Report [1]

The Energy 2050 Committee Report was published in March 2022 and maps out key considerations, decision points, and strategic choices for Singapore. It is a good reference point for the new energy strategy for Singapore.

Overall, the Committee concluded that it is realistic for Singapore’s power sector to aspire to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 while still maintaining energy security and affordability. To do so, however, Singapore needs to be prepared to make bold changes along the way based on technology trends as well as other global developments. In addition, the Committee sees good prospects for Singapore to capture economic growth opportunities from the energy transition in the region and beyond. Power sector solutions can become an important pillar of Singapore’s green growth engine if it can establish itself as a technology frontrunner and a living lab for sustainable energy solutions. Most importantly, it is technically viable for Singapore to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, whilst maintaining energy security and affordability.

Singapore’s 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution Target

Singapore’s initial target was to halve its 2030 peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with the aim of achieving net zero by or around mid-century. Singapore will now reduce its 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target to peak emissions of around 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) — a 5MtCO2e drop from the existing NDC target. Singapore will submit these climate goals formally to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the upcoming 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) which takes place 6 – 18 November 2022.

The new ambitious targets for Singapore is aligned with the Energy 2050 Committee Report. Overall, the Committee has concluded that it is realistic for Singapore’s power sector to aspire to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 while still maintaining energy security and affordability. To do so, however, Singapore needs to be prepared to make bold changes along the way based on technology trends as well as other global developments. In addition, the Committee sees good prospects for Singapore to capture economic growth opportunities from the energy transition in the region and beyond. Power sector solutions can become an important pillar of Singapore’s green growth engine if it can establish itself as a technology frontrunner and a living lab for sustainable energy solutions. Most importantly, it is technically viable for Singapore to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, while maintaining energy security and affordability.

Low-carbon hydrogen

Low-carbon hydrogen is an option for Singapore to achieve deep decarbonisation. Singapore has taken steps to build capabilities in low-carbon hydrogen for power generation and there is global interest in exporting low-carbon hydrogen. How much low carbon hydrogen is deployable depends on how the technology and industry trends pan out going forward. Based on the Energy 2050 Committee Report’s 2050 scenarios, low-carbon hydrogen could account for around 10% to 60% of Singapore’s supply mix. Hydrogen is deemed to have the potential to supply up to half of Singapore’s power generation mix by 2050 and Singapore will adopt a national hydrogen strategy.

Singapore will plan for local hydrogen deployment and will collaborate with partners to build a hydrogen supply chain in Asia. An Expression of Interest (EOI) for power generation commencing 2027 will be issued by the Singapore Government. A fund of S$129 million will be set aside for Phase 2 of The Low-Carbon Energy Research Programme to resolve the technological bottlenecks for hydrogen adoption.

Development of hydrogen, ecosystems and infrastructure

Singapore will work closely with industry and international partners to advance low-carbon hydrogen developments. This includes Guarantee of Origin certification methodologies that are recognised by other jurisdictions and development a robust financial ecosystem to facilitate global trade of low carbon hydrogen. Singapore is also planning its manpower resources to support the growth of the domestic hydrogen economy which will enable Singaporeans to seize new opportunities.

The Government will put into place long-term land use and infrastructure in anticipation of local hydrogen deployment. Singapore is expecting to have its first hydrogen power plant by the first half of 2026.

The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association of Singapore (HFCAS)[2] and its members received the news with great gusto. HFCAS has been helping to educate and promote the use of hydrogen and fuel cells in the Singapore context to help Singapore decarbonize and move towards a greener energy mix for power generation, mobility and industrial applications.

Asia Clean Energy Summit (ACES)

ACES is one of Asia’s most important arenas for dialogue between policymakers, industry players and technopreneurs. ACES’ opening address was delivered by Dr Tan See Leng, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade and Industry. Minister Tan emphasised the urgent need to reduce overall global emissions in the coming decades and proposed a useful framework to support Singapore’s decarbonisation efforts.

Accelerate deployment of renewable energy (RE)

As RE currently only makes up 10% of Asia’s total energy supply, it is imperative to increase the deployment of RE so that countries can replace their existing energy supply with clean energy sources.

For its part, Singapore has become the world’s most solar-dense nation in the world. Singapore achieved its 2020 solar target of 350 megawatt-peak (MWp) in the first quarter of 2020. In the longer term, Singapore is working towards achieving a new solar target of at least 2 GWp by 2030, and an energy storage deployment target of at least 200MW beyond 2025.

Energy Storage System (ESS) is viewed as a game-changer that can address grid intermittency and enhance grid resilience. To this end, Dr Tan updated that the 200MW/200MWh ESS by Sembcorp Industries is undergoing commissioning tests to achieve commercial operations by end November. Once operational, this will be the largest ESS deployed in Southeast Asia and the fastest of its size.

Collaborate across borders on clean energy trade

With the transition to clean energy sources, there will be a fundamental shift in energy supply chains. Hence, countries that are rich in renewable energy potential should be able to export energy via interconnectors. Cross-border collaboration and services between Asian countries will need to be strengthened to facilitate and to grow the clean energy trade across the region and the world.

To facilitate such endeavours, governments will need to establish stable regulatory frameworks and create an ecosystem which helps cross-border energy trade. Strong partnerships will also be need for major developments such as regional power grids and cross-border electricity grid interconnections[3].

Minister Tan announced the successful completion of the upgrade of the Malaysia-Singapore interconnectors. The upgrade has doubled the interconnectors’ original capacity to accommodate bidirectional electricity flows of around 1,000 megawatts between the two countries. The enhancement has allowed Singapore to support the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP) cross-border power trade project.

Minister Tan also announced that Singapore is partnering with the US on a Feasibility Study on Regional Energy Connectivity in Southeast Asia. The study will assess the benefits, technical feasibility, and economic viability of developing a regional power grid network in Southeast Asia.

Grow local capabilities

Manpower is critical to the success of the region’s ambition to decarbonise. Minister Tan emphasised the clarion call for countries to look into building their own local clean energy companies as they develop strategies to decarbonise the energy sector.

A Clean Energy Jobs-Skills Insights (JSI) analysis jointly developed by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and the Energy Market Authority (EMA)[4] has identified the key growth areas emerging from the current shifts in the energy landscape, and the skills with high growth in demand. The deep dive study on clean energy sector opportunities identified three key areas of growth, namely solar, energy storage systems and smart grids.

These are areas where the industry most need to develop and train the necessary manpower to harness the foreseeable opportunities and to leapfrog into the low carbon future. EMA will be working with the National Trade Unions Congress to kickstart the development of an Operations Technology Roadmap for the clean energy sector.