Accelerating Asia’s Clean Energy Transition
1. Er Edwin Khew, Chairman, Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. A warm welcome to all of you to the Singapore International Energy Week and the 9th edition of the Asia Clean Energy Summit.
2. I am delighted to see many Government and industry partners in the energy space participating in this year’s event. I would also like to thank the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore for making this possible. Thank you all for your continued support over the years.
3. There is a pressing need to reduce global emissions in the coming decades. While countries have identified their individual commitments, the total global commitment is currently insufficient, in its present state, to mitigate the most potent effects of climate change, A concerted global effort will be required to achieve meaningful outcomes, and Asia will be a critical region in determining the success of this effort.
4. According to the World Energy Outlook 2021 Report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), Asia accounts for around 53% of global carbon emissions in 2020.
5. It is also a region with significant renewable energy potential. Asia has the capacity to almost triple the current renewable energy generation of 3.3 terawatt-hours to 8.6 terawatt-hours in the year 2030, with a corresponding reduction in emissions of 18 gigatons CO2-equivalent. All of our collective actions will be a focal point in combating climate change globally.
Strategies to Decarbonise the Energy Sector
6. The energy sector contributes to around 47% of Asia’s greenhouse gas emissions. To decarbonise the Asian economy, the energy sector must be a critical focus area of our efforts.
7. There are three key pillars I would like to focus on to accelerate the global energy transition.
a. First, accelerate the deployment of renewable energy.
b. Second, collaborate across borders and increase the facilitation of clean energy trade.
c. Third, grow our local clean energy companies and build manpower capabilities to enable a seamless clean energy transition.
Accelerate the Deployment of Renewable Energy
8. For the first pillar, we need to look at accelerating the deployment of renewable energy.
9. Energy demand in Asia is projected to increase significantly. It is expected to grow from 120 million barrels of oil equivalent today, to 140 million barrels equivalent by 2030, and 150 million barrels equivalent by 2050.
10. Today, renewable energy only makes up 10% of Asia’s energy supply. With the growth in energy demand, there is also an urgency for us to increase renewable energy deployment in the region, so that we can increase and replace the existing energy supply with cleaner energy sources.
11. For us here in Singapore, we are doing our part by accelerating our solar deployment efforts. We are maximising our solar deployment on conventional roof spaces as well as water bodies, vacant land, and vertical building facades, to achieve our solar targets of 1.5 gigawatt-peak (GWp) by 2025 and at least 2 GWp by 2030.
12. I am heartened to see that many companies from SEAS such as Sunseap, Energetix, Sembcorp Solar Singapore and Cleantech Solar have been actively contributing to Singapore’s solar deployment. With strong support from stakeholders such as yourselves, Singapore is now one of the most solar dense cities in the world.
13. We will continue to explore new ways to increase solar deployment across all viable sites in Singapore, including co-location with existing infrastructure and uses such as roads, canals, and agricultural spaces, to maximise deployment in our highly urbanised environment.
14. With their extensive accrued experience in deploying solar energy, Singapore’s companies and workers in the clean energy sector have much to contribute to the regional and global clean energy transition, and we very much hope that they will participate in this collective endeavour.
Cross-border Collaborations and Clean Energy Trade
15. For the second pillar, we need to look at strengthening energy collaborations and facilitate clean energy trade across the region and the world. With the transition to clean energy sources, we will see a fundamental shift in energy supply chains. Countries which are rich in renewable energy potential can now export energy via interconnectors. In the future, they can also produce clean energy fuels such as green hydrogen, which can be transported for use around the world.
16. Southeast Asia is brimming with renewable energy potential. Yet, while cheaper fossil fuel options remain available and given the challenges of deploying renewable energy, many such projects require heavy capital investments which make financing extremely challenging.
17. Cross-border collaborations and clean energy trade help to make projects more commercially viable in our region. We are a diverse collection of countries with varying capacities to generate and pay for clean energy. Having a wider base of consumers willing to offtake clean energy can provide the base demand and improve a project’s financing options.
18. Such projects, which include regional power grids and co-development of renewable energy projects can, in turn, serve the domestic demand for renewable energy, whilst at the same time helping the region to decarbonise through exports. Regional power grids and cross-border energy trade can also strengthen regional energy security and resiliency by enabling mutual support of power systems and unlock investments in renewable energy and employment opportunities in the source countries.
19. To facilitate clean energy trade in the region, Governments should work together to establish the regulatory frameworks, infrastructure, and the ecosystem, to provide more assurance for cross-border energy trade and to enhance regional connectivity. We can adopt a four-pronged approach.
20. First, we should conduct trials and pilots to gain insights on clean energy trade, and upgrade infrastructure to facilitate these projects. The Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP) that successfully commenced on 23 June this year serves as an important pathfinder project to advance regional interconnectivity, underpinned by the ASEAN Power Grid vision. The four countries look forward to further discussions on enhancements and future plans of the LTMS-PIP to support continued multilateral power trades in the region.
21. I am pleased to announce the successful completion of the upgrade of the Malaysia-Singapore interconnectors, which can now accommodate bidirectional electricity flows of around 1,000 megawatts between the two countries. The upgrade has doubled the interconnector’s original capacity, and has allowed us to support the LTMS project. This is another important milestone in enhancing regional energy connectivity, and will facilitate future import trials around our region.
22. Second, provide infrastructure project opportunities to accelerate clean energy development and trade in the region. The Energy Market Authority, or EMA, has launched Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for electricity import projects from the region. We have received more than 20 proposals to import electricity from five countries – Australia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, and Thailand, and remain on track to meet our imports target of 4GW by 2035. Prospective importers are keen to work with companies in the region to co-develop projects which can also serve the domestic demand of source countries.
23. Third, work as a regional and global community to plan and implement our energy transition towards a shared future. The clean energy transition is challenging, especially as we are also grappling with a global energy crisis. No one country can do it alone, and we need to work together to advance our collective interests. Regional and international groups like the ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meetings (AMEM), G20 Energy Transition Ministers Meeting (ETMM), G7, and international organisations like the International Energy Agency (IEA) and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) help to bring the energy leaders in Government and industry together on a common platform to discuss and develop solutions to our shared energy crisis.
24. But beyond these regular meetings, we also need to strengthen our collaborations bilaterally and multilaterally, to achieve concrete progress on clean energy projects. To facilitate these collaborations, Singapore has entered into various partnerships to advance our energy cooperation this year.
25. These include the Green Economy Agreement with Australia and the MOU on Energy Cooperation with Vietnam that I signed last week, the MOU on Energy Cooperation with Lao PDR that we signed last month, and the MOU on Energy and Green Economy Cooperation with Brunei Darussalam in August this year.
26. I am pleased to announce that Singapore and Cambodia have just signed an MOU to deepen our energy cooperation at SIEW. Under this MOU, we will deepen our energy cooperation with Cambodia. Such partnerships will help to facilitate key areas of cooperation such as the development and financing of renewable energy projects, development of regional power grids and cross-border grid interconnections for electricity between both countries, and the development of measurement, reporting and verification frameworks for Renewable Energy Certificates.
27. To strengthen partnerships, we are keen to work with the Governments of Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Australia, to explore renewable energy project development and trading. We encourage prospective importers to consider these projects and participate in EMA’s RFP for electricity imports.
28. Fourth, we will need to explore innovative business models to boost the commercial viability of clean energy trade projects. These models need to address how we can better enhance regional grid connectivity, strengthen regional energy security and resiliency, and unlock investments in renewable energy and employment opportunities in the source countries.
29. In particular, given the intense global demand for subsea cables and electricity imports infrastructure, it will be important to explore both the longer-term provision of regional operations & maintenance capabilities and the anchoring of subsea cable manufacturing facilities in the region.
30. To advance our understanding, I am pleased to announce that Singapore is partnering with the US on a Feasibility Study on Regional Energy Connectivity in Southeast Asia. It will assess the benefits, technical feasibility, and economic viability of developing a regional power grid network comprising both land and sea-based interconnections in Southeast Asia.
31. The Study will also propose possible forms of such a regional network, taking into consideration implemented and planned connections, as well as other possible connections involving regional countries. This will help to facilitate clean energy trade projects in the region, which can spur further investments. The study will be part of the Net Zero World Initiative led by the US, which the US plans to work hand in hand with Singapore and Southeast Asian partners to co-create and implement highly tailored, actionable technical and investment plans to support energy decarbonisation in the region.
Growing our Local Clean Energy Companies
32. For the third and final pillar, we need to look at growing our local clean energy companies. As we develop and embark our strategies to decarbonise the power sector, it is paramount that we set our sights on the growth opportunities for the local clean energy sector.
33. A study by EMA showed that there will be new growth opportunities in the areas of solar, Energy Storage System (ESS) and smart grids as Singapore transitions towards greater sustainability. These opportunities include conventional and non-conventional solar deployment such as floating and Building-integrated photovoltaics, Battery ESS Engineering, Procurement and Construction and project management services. These opportunities will in turn bring about more business opportunities for companies and create new jobs for locals.
34. Some of the new career opportunities that we can look forward to include Internet of Things (IoT) and Data Specialists, Power System Integration Engineers, ESS software developers and many more.
35. While these opportunities are relevant for Singapore, they will extend to the regional and global arenas as local companies continue to sharpen their capabilities and support decarbonisation efforts in the region.
36. I also urge all companies to invest in the training and development of your workers. They will play a sustainable and crucial role to support the energy transition of the region and capture opportunities in the emerging clean energy sector.
37. To support our local companies’ growth journey, EMA has also been working with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to identify key challenges faced by clean energy companies in preparing for the Singapore Energy Transition.
38. In June this year, EMA collaborated with NTUC to kickstart the development of an Operations and Technology Roadmap (OTR) for the clean energy sector. Companies in the solar, ESS and smart grid domains shared key challenges and suggestions for how the business environment could be enhanced, the anticipated skills needed, and co-creating innovative energy solutions to meet national needs.
39. EMA will continue to work with government agencies and industry partners to better understand the manpower needs of the clean energy industry and will implement initiatives to train, upskill and attract talent.
40. To conclude, the clean energy sector can benefit from the many exciting opportunities as we embark on the global and regional clean energy transition. We must work together to press on in our charge towards addressing climate change and creating a sustainable energy future for all. In this collaborative spirit, I look forward to a robust discussion at the Summit.
41. Thank you.