Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Opening Ceremony of the Asia Clean Energy Summit 2020, on 27 October 2020
Mr Edwin Khew, Chairman, Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore
Ladies and Gentlemen
1 It is a pleasure to be here at the 7th edition of the Asia Clean Energy Summit. While only a limited number of people can attend the conference physically this year, I commend the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore for organising this hybrid event, bringing together thought leaders and stakeholders from the region in the clean energy space.
Sustaining efforts to mitigate climate change
2 The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, work and play. Even as we address the challenges from the pandemic, we must continue to focus on the climate crisis confronting us, and keep sustainability at the core of everything we do.
3 This is especially important for Singapore, given our vulnerability to climate change threats such as sea-level rise. We must sustain efforts to mitigate climate change. Today, I would like to share Singapore’s efforts in adopting clean energy solutions and improving energy efficiency. These are two important strategies to mitigate climate change, and we have been steadily advancing progress on these fronts.
Adopting clean energy solutions
4 First, adopting clean energy solutions. As many of you may know, solar energy is Singapore’s most viable renewable energy option, given our limited access to alternative energy sources such as geothermal, wind and hydropower. We achieved our 2020 solar deployment target of 350 megawatt-peak (MWp) in the first quarter of this year, and aim to deploy at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) by 2030. This would be sufficient to power around 350,000 Singaporean households a year. However, the deployment of solar energy remains challenging due to our limited land space, competition for alternative uses and dense urban landscape. We have therefore ventured to make use of alternative spaces, such as water bodies.
5 In August this year, PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency and Sembcorp started constructing the floating solar photovoltaic (or PV) system on Tengeh Reservoir, which will be one of the world’s largest. When completed, the energy generated will power all of PUB’s local water treatment plants and offset 7 per cent of their annual energy needs. This large-scale floating solar PV system is an expansion of an earlier testbed deployed on Tengeh Reservoir by PUB and the Economic Development Board (or EDB) in 2016, to study the feasibility of deploying floating PV systems on reservoirs. The Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (or SERIS) played a critical role as project manager for the testbed and found that floating solar PV systems performed 5 to 15 per cent better than conventional rooftop solar systems. This lent support to PUB’s plans to deploy large-scale floating solar PV systems on reservoirs to reduce their carbon footprint and mitigate climate change.
6 To further develop capabilities in the areas of near-shore and offshore floating PV systems, I am happy to share that SERIS will be collaborating with Fred. Olsen Renewables under a research agreement to develop various floating PV solutions for seawater and different climatic conditions. The Fred. Olsen companies, which are based out of Norway, have more than 170 years of global experience in shipping, offshore construction, offshore energy production, and renewable power production. More details will be shared at the 4th International Floating Solar Symposium (IFSS).
7 Besides reducing carbon emissions, solar deployment has other benefits. Earlier this year, as part of efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government set up a number of Community Care and Community Recovery Facilities to house recovering patients. To reduce carbon emissions, fumes and noise created by mobile diesel generators, more than 650 made-in-Singapore, REC Alpha Series solar panels were installed at the recovery facility at the Changi Exhibition Centre. These produced about 20 per cent of the facilities’ projected energy needs and contributed towards a better recovery environment for the patients.
8 On this note, I am pleased to share that Maxeon Solar Technologies will be establishing their global head office and R&D centre in Singapore to develop next-gen solar panel technologies. Being a leader in solar innovation with access to over 900 patents and two best-in-class differentiated panels, the entry of Maxeon will further strengthen our local R&D ecosystem, and is aligned with Singapore’s ambition to ramp up installed solar capacity by 2030.
Improving energy efficiency
9 Given our limited access to clean energy, we must be prudent in using our precious energy resources. Improving energy efficiency is therefore the second key strategy in our journey to sustainability and mitigating climate change. Since the Energy Conservation Act (or ECA) came into effect in 2013, companies regulated under the Act achieved an average annual energy efficiency improvement rate of 1 per cent from 2014 to 2018. Translated to carbon abatement, this represents about 250 kilo-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year — similar to removing 70,000 cars from the road each year! The Government will continue to support energy efficiency efforts, through grants such as EDB’s Resource Efficiency Grant for Energy, and the National Environment Agency’s Energy Efficiency Fund. To date, over $100 million have been committed to help local manufacturers in their energy efficiency projects.
10 Singapore is also pursuing opportunities to improve energy efficiency through a circular economy approach. An example of this is the Tuas Nexus, Singapore’s first integrated water reclamation and solid waste treatment facility, and the first in the world when completed. By co-digesting food waste and water sludge, and combusting the biogas produced, not only will the electricity generated sustain the operations of the facility, there will be excess energy to power up to 300,000 four-room HDB flats.
11 The Government is also committed to working with companies and businesses to drive our sustainability agenda. I am pleased to announce that ENGIE Factory and EDB New Ventures will be signing an MOU to build a portfolio of new sustainability start-ups that will help companies in Singapore and Southeast Asia to decarbonise more quickly and profitably. These new ventures will accelerate the zero-carbon transition, boost employment in a critical and growing segment and establish Singapore as a hub for sustainability innovation in the region. We hope that more pioneering solutions and breakthroughs in sustainable development could arise from this partnership.
12 These are some innovative ways we have undertaken to raise energy efficiency and generate clean energy. We are also studying emerging technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and exploring the potential of tapping on regional power grids to access sustainable energy resources.
13 Let me conclude. This is a prime period for companies and policymakers to leverage opportunities in harnessing clean energy and improving energy efficiency, as we push for a green recovery post-COVID-19. Fighting climate change and making the transition towards a greener economy will require a concerted whole-of-nation effort by industries, individuals and the Government.
14 While promising progress has been made thus far, we must continue to push the frontiers of sustainability. I wish everyone a fruitful Summit ahead, and for the discussions to catalyse positive actions for our environment. Together, we can game change climate change.