On Monday (6 October), Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing announced that the government will commence a two-year trial of importing electricity from Peninsular Malaysia, starting with 100 megawatts during that period “to see how the market works and to see how the technical challenges can be overcome”.
“This will allow the region to share the clean energy sources that different countries may have,” he said at the start of the Singapore International Energy Week at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre today.
In a separate statement, Energy Market Authority (EMA) said on the same day that it plans to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) by March next year for the aforementioned 100 MW of electricity imports.
“Under this RFP, electricity imports could begin as early as end-2021, via the existing electricity interconnector between Singapore and Malaysia,” said EMA.
The 100 MW of electricity in this trial, said the Authority, “will make up about 1.5% of Singapore’s peak electricity demand”.
Upon this announcement, netizens were quick to question and criticise this move on the CNA Facebook page.
Many drew a direct comparison to the state’s water arrangements with Malaysia, which made headlines for months last year when Singapore’s northern neighbour sought to renegotiate the price of raw water it is selling to Singapore, based on an agreement first signed in 1961.
Commenters questioned if it is wise to also start getting electricity from another country, as it may give that country leverage over Singapore.
One person in particular argued that Singapore should be seeking to move towards self-reliance instead of going down a path of dependence, pointing out that this is possible if the nation isn’t already overburdened.
In that same vein, another netizen asked what happened to Singapore’s plans to generate more electricity via solar power.
One commenter asked for more details on the objective of such a move, such as how this would lead to cleaner air and what the new role of the Power Grid will be.
There were also a few people who were concerned about the news of blackouts in Malaysia and wondered if they can be consistent in providing Singapore with electricity in the first place.
A few others wondered if this move to import electricity will lead to a hike in electricity tariffs for those living in Singapore, similar to the water issue.
One netizen in particular asked if Malaysia is producing clean energy in the first place, or whether Singapore importing electricity from its neighbour is simply “passing the carbon tax” to them.
“What’s the logic? We are still burning fossil fuel to generate energy,” they asked.