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Oral reply to PQs on Low-Carbon Technologies

Oral reply to PQs on Low-Carbon Technologies


Dr Tan Wu Meng: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) whether he can provide an update on industry transformation plans for the marine and offshore engineering (M&OE) sector; and (b) whether the Industry Transformation Maps and related policy reviews have considered what opportunities may exist in offshore carrier transport of hydrogen.

Dr Tan Wu Meng: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) whether the Ministry has done any assessment of the low-carbon hydrogen sector; (b) if so, what is the current state of the art for hydrogen transportation by carrier; (c) at what point will carrier-transported hydrogen become commercially viable; (d) what is Singapore's potential to be a hydrogen hub; and (e) whether moving ahead of market shifts may be considered as a strategy.

Dr Tan Wu Meng: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) whether he can provide an update on the current state of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS); (b) what are the respective conservative and optimistic assessments of potential CCUS technological advancements in the next decade; and (c) what role can incentives play to improve CCUS commercial viability for purposes of deployment in the petrochemicals sector.

Oral Answer (to be attributed to Second Minister for Trade and Industry and Minister of Manpower, Dr Tan See Leng)

1. Climate change is an existential challenge for Singapore. In March 2020, Singapore submitted our enhanced 2030 Nationally Determined Contributions and Long-term Low Emissions Development Strategy, or LEDS. One of our key thrusts under the LEDS is to adopt advanced low-carbon technologies, such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) and low-carbon hydrogen, to decarbonise our economy.

Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage

2. For CCUS, a small number of pathways are at a technologically advanced stage, but require further development to be commercially viable in Singapore.

3. A key pathway is carbon capture and storage, or CCS. We are seeing more large-scale projects being developed with government support internationally. This includes Project Longship[1] and PORTHOS[2] in Norway and the Netherlands respectively. However, Singapore faces challenges in deploying CCS domestically, including a lack of any known geological formations that are suitable for the permanent storage of carbon dioxide underground. We are therefore exploring partnerships with companies and other countries with suitable geological formations to enable carbon dioxide storage opportunities.

4. We are also exploring carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) pathways, where carbon dioxide is captured and converted into waste-based feedstocks or natural minerals that can be used to produce aggregates for reclamation or buildings materials. There are a number of companies developing test-beds for use in Singapore, and examples of commercial scale operations in other countries.

5. Captured carbon dioxide may also be used to manufacture synthetic fuels and chemicals, such as kerosene and methanol, which can be used as aviation and marine fuels. However, most pathways for synthesising fuels or chemicals from carbon dioxide are not mature. Though some are at demonstration or post-demonstration stage, they can be expensive compared to conventional production, while others remain at lab-scale. Some also require significant amounts of energy in the form of low-carbon hydrogen, which will take some time to become cost-competitive with other conventional sources of energy.

Low-Carbon Hydrogen

6. Low-carbon hydrogen is a key technology for Singapore to decarbonise. A recent feasibility study commissioned by government agencies and published in June this year concluded that hydrogen has the potential to decarbonise maritime, electricity generation,  heavy transportation, and some industrial process. However, until CCUS is commercially viable, Singapore cannot produce low-carbon hydrogen at scale. Hence, we are also exploring a range of other supply pathways.

7. The key challenge with scaling up the supply of hydrogen is the high storage and transportation costs. Hydrogen is a gas with a boiling point far lower than natural gas. It is therefore a significant engineering challenge to transport and store hydrogen in a commercially viable manner. To overcome this problem, the industry is working on different hydrogen carriers, each with their advantages and challenges to overcome.

8. These transportation options include:

a. Ammonia. While supply chains exist today, ammonia is currently not produced using low-carbon methods or shipped in quantities required of an energy carrier. Burning ammonia releases noxious oxides. To avoid this, we need to first liberate the hydrogen in ammonia,  which could be an energy-intensive process.

b. Liquid Organic Hydride Carriers (LOHCs), which allows storage and transport of hydrogen at ambient conditions. However, they are less hydrogen-dense which means a relatively higher cargo footprint would be needed to import the same amount of hydrogen. The process required to release hydrogen from LOHCs can also be land- and energy-intensive.

c. Liquefied hydrogen, where hydrogen is transported in its natural form. However, the process to liquify hydrogen for transport is energy-intensive and the technology for the large-scale shipping of liquefied hydrogen is relatively nascent.

9. There is currently no global consensus on which carrier form of hydrogen might dominate in the future, or when long-distance transport of hydrogen and the processes to liberate hydrogen from carriers might become viable.

10. Singapore is keen to realise the decarbonisation potential of hydrogen and to develop into a regional hydrogen hub. Government agencies will continue to monitor the technological and market developments to ensure that Singapore maintains its competitiveness.

11. Additionally, we will continue to collaborate with companies and the research community on Research, Development, and Demonstration (RD&D) projects and testbeds for CCUS solutions as well as low-carbon hydrogen. Last year, we launched a $49 million Low Carbon Energy Research (LCER) Funding Initiatives for the next 5 years, to improve the technical and economic feasibility low-carbon technologies.

12. At the same time, we are collaborating with international partners to further the development of low-carbon technologies, both in RD&D and the development of supply chains. We have signed an MOU with Australia on cooperation in Low-Emissions Solutions and an MOU with Chile on Low-Carbon Hydrogen Collaboration, and just signed an Arrangement regarding Collaboration on Low-Carbon Hydrogen with New Zealand. We look forward to more partnerships and to leveraging them to capture new opportunities from emerging technologies.

13. Dr Tan Wu Meng also asked specifically about the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) of the marine & offshore engineering (M&OE) sector. Agencies are updating the ITM to take into account the impact of COVID-19 and the implications of a low-carbon transition, and target to launch a refreshed ITM next year. We expect offshore renewables and offshore carrier transport of hydrogen to be among the areas of opportunity in the refreshed ITM.

[1] Project Longship in Norway is a CCS project by the Norwegian Government that aims to capture carbon dioxide from cement and waste-to-energy sources and transport the captured carbon dioxide to an offshore storage location in the North Sea for permanent storage. The Norwegian Government approved funding for Longship in Dec 2020, it is targeted to commence operation 2024.

[2] The Port of Rotterdam CO2 Transport Hub and Offshore Storage (PORTHOS) aims to transport captured CO2 from industrial sources near the Port of Rotterdam, to an empty gas field in the North Sea for storage. Final Investment Decision for the project is targeted for 2022, and operations to commence in 2024.

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