Electricity demand — expected to have declined by 2 per cent to 4 per cent last year due to the impact brought by the COVID-19 pandemic — will rebound as Singapore’s economy recovers, said Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng in Parliament on Tuesday (5 January).
Responding to questions from Members of the House regarding the issue, Dr Tan said the rebound in electricity demand is also driven by new users such as data centres, 5G telecommunication networks, agri-tech facilities and electric vehicles.
He noted that the Government will harness four switches to diversify Singapore’s energy supply, namely natural gas, solar energy, regional power grids and emerging low-carbon alternatives such as hydrogen.
According to the Minister, the nation has progressively transitioned from oil-powered power plants since the early 2000s to adopt natural gas, which currently accounts for 95 per cent of the electricity produced in Singapore.
“We do not have the natural resources, the land area, as well as climatic conditions necessary for the large-scale deployment of renewable energy sources such as hydro and wind,” he noted.
That said, Dr Tan stressed that natural gas will continue to be the main source of energy for power generation to serve households and industries in Singapore reliably in the medium term.
He pointed out that solar energy is the “most viable source of renewable energy within Singapore”.
Installed solar capacity has increased more than a hundredfold over the past 10 years, which is from 3.8 megawatt-peak in 2010 to around 400 megawatt-peak in mid-2020, Dr Tan added.
“We are accelerating our efforts and we will almost quadruple our solar capacity to 1.5 gigawatt peak by 2025,” he said.
The Minister added that Singapore aims to achieve 2 gigawatt peak by the end of 2030.
“So by 2030, we expect our second switch to supply around 3 per cent of our total electricity consumption. And of course, depending on the state of technology at that point in time and cost, we hope to be able to do more,” he noted.
Dr Tan also hinted that the Government is also working in partnership with local companies to deploy solar photovoltaic systems. This includes Sunseap Group, a major participant in the SolarNova programme, which deploys solar power to public sector buildings and spaces.
In October last year, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing announced that Singapore will commence a two-year trial of electricity import from Peninsular Malaysia to diversify its power supply and utilize clean energy resources.
Noting that the country is trialling electricity imports of up to 100 megawatts from Peninsular Malaysia, Dr Tan said that there will be “minimal impact” on the reliability and cost of electricity supply as this makes up about 1.5 per cent of Singapore’s peak electricity demand.
“Our preference, of course, is to import electricity from renewable energy sources and hence the cleanliness of the generation source will be a major consideration in selecting the importer,” he added.
Dr Tan said today that discussions on solar farm company Sun Cable’s proposal to supply power from Australia’s Northern Territory to Singapore are still ongoing.
However, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) is unable to share more details due to “commercial sensitivities”.
He noted that the Government is working with the industry and research community to study emerging low-carbon technologies, such as hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage.
“We will facilitate the development of these technologies to various research development and demonstration funding activities, including a low-carbon energy research funding initiative,” said Dr Tan.
The Minister revealed that the low-carbon energy research funding initiative costs about S$50 million, which will be used to explore the supply, storage and downstream uses of hydrogen, as well as carbon capture and storage for use in building materials of fuels.
“By tapping on all four switches, Singapore will be able to diversify our energy sources. This will enhance our access to secure and competitively priced energy supplies and this will reduce our energy security risks.
“The future energy mix will depend on technological advances in the four switches. This will need to be complemented by efforts to enhance energy efficiency across all sectors and consumers,” he noted.