Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to join you at Energy Innovation 2023. I am delighted to see so many familiar faces in the room today. Energy Innovation is a key event where the sector comes together to foster new energy innovations in Singapore.
2. Since I first attended Energy Innovation in 2021, the ecosystem and capabilities of the energy sector have flourished. Today, we’re in a better position to accelerate our transition to a clean energy future. This is aptly reflected in our theme for this year, “Creating a Future-Ready Clean Energy Sector”.
3. The existential threat posed by climate change has become a real issue for countries globally. Just last May, Singapore clocked its highest daily maximum temperature of 37 degrees Celsius in 40 years. Temperature records are also being broken in other parts of Asia in recent months. These are part of a broader pattern of extreme climate events that could become more common if urgent action is not taken to combat climate change.
4. Singapore is committed to supporting global efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Last year, we announced our goal to reduce emissions to around 60 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030 and eventually achieve net zero emissions by 2050. As an alternative energy-disadvantaged nation, these are ambitious targets for Singapore. To achieve them, we must strengthen our clean energy ecosystem via three key strategies – one, pushing the envelope on energy innovation, two, supporting SMEs and startups, and three, nurturing a skilled clean energy workforce.
5. Allow me to elaborate.
Pushing the envelope on energy innovation
6. One, pushing the envelope on energy innovation. Singapore’s power sector contributes about two-fifths of our emissions today. Decarbonising the sector is thus a key pillar of our net-zero ambition. In 2021, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) set out the Singapore Energy Transition blueprint, which is based on harnessing our four key energy switches: natural gas, solar energy, regional electricity imports and emerging low-carbon alternatives. This is a long-term effort that requires close collaboration amongst various stakeholders as well as the development of new technologies that can take on a key role in tomorrow’s energy mix.
7. Singapore has invested significantly in capturing new growth opportunities from our energy transition. This includes pushing the boundaries of innovation in solar technologies, which remains the most promising renewable energy source in the near term for Singapore.
a. A few months ago, I visited Sembcorp’s 60-megawatt-peak (MWp) floating solar farm at Tengeh Reservoir. I was impressed by the sight of over 120,000 floating solar panels across a vast expanse of water spanning an area equivalent to 45 football fields. This remarkable project exemplifies how we can overcome our land constraints through innovation and turn it into an opportunity. Today, Singapore is a global leader in floating solar technologies.
b. We are also maximising solar deployment on the rooftops of our buildings, vacant land, and other spaces. As a result, we are one of the most solar-dense cities in the world. We are on track to achieving our target of deploying at least 2-gigawatt peak (GWp) of solar energy by 2030. This could generate enough electricity to meet the needs of around 350,000 households yearly.
8. However, as we accelerate our solar deployment, we must also deal with the challenges of solar intermittency arising from factors like cloud cover and urban shading. Energy storage systems or ESS (pronounced E-S-S) will be crucial to addressing solar intermittency and improving grid reliability.
9. To tackle this issue, EMA has, over the past eight years, supported R&D to develop ESS solutions that are suitable for deployment in Singapore’s tropical climate and urbanised environment. These R&D efforts have also helped to guide the development of local ESS regulations and standards. As a result, we were able to facilitate the deployment of a 285 megawatt-hour (MWh) ESS on Jurong Island last year in just six months. This is the largest ESS in Southeast Asia and the fastest in the world of its size to be deployed.
10. We will do more to develop ESS solutions that can be deployed in Singapore and other urban environments. EMA will be launching the 2nd Energy Storage Grant Call today. This grant call encourages industry and researchers to co-develop new ESS solutions that are safe, cost-competitive and space-efficient. Let’s all press in and further push the envelope of energy innovation in ESS and other areas of clean energy.
Supporting our SMEs and startups
11. In our 2nd strategy, we will deepen and widen our support of SMEs and startups to strengthen our clean energy ecosystem. Dynamic SMEs and startups catalyse innovation, create jobs and drive new growth. EMA has forged partnerships with companies like Shell and Envision Digital to nurture local energy SMEs and startups. Through incubation programmes and follow-on funding, we hope these enterprises can go on to develop and commercialise promising solutions.
12. I am happy to share that three start-ups have been awarded grants under these partnerships. They are PowerFacade, Etavolt (pronounced as Ee-ta-volt) and Ampotech (pronounced as Am-po-tech).
a. PowerFacade aims to develop coloured solar photovoltaic (PV) modules which are highly optimised, visually appealing and seamlessly integrated into building facades. These modules not only contribute to Singapore’s solar deployment goals without requiring additional land, but they also beautify our urban landscape with their colourful solar panels as part of the building design.
b. Another startup, Etavolt, seeks to develop a solar PV asset optimisation model and smart recycling plant management system. These innovations aim to maximise energy generation over the lifespan of the panels and facilitate the recovery of valuable raw materials from the panels at the end of their operational life.
c. The third startup, Ampotech, is developing a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning optimisation technology that offers building owners valuable insights into energy consumption patterns and equipment performance. This will empower them to make informed decisions, save energy and improve the energy efficiency of buildings in Singapore.
13. Congratulations to these startups as they embark on developing and commercialising their promising clean energy solutions. I would also like to thank our partners, Shell and Envision Digital, for their active role in supporting SMEs and startups. I encourage more of such established businesses in the energy sector to help promising SMEs grow and expand.
Nurturing a skilled workforce in the growing clean energy sector
14. To develop our clean energy sector, we aim to nurture a skilled workforce that will form the heart of our clean energy ecosystem. This is an exciting time to join the clean energy sector.
15. The future of jobs in this industry is a bright one. EMA’s recent manpower study revealed some interesting insights.
a. It found that one out of every five persons working in the energy industry today is from the clean energy sector. More than eight out of ten workers in the clean energy sector are Singapore residents.
b. The clean energy workforce is projected to grow by 80% to around 2,700 workers by 2032. There will be substantial demand for highly-skilled technical roles such as engineers. Job functions that are projected to grow significantly include those in electricity transmission and distribution solutions; low-carbon alternatives; solar; and smart grids, meters and sensors. These jobs offer attractive career options for Singaporeans as our country and more cities make the clean energy transition.
16. As we accelerate our drive for clean energy, our workforce will need to be equipped with specialised skill sets to support new clean energy job functions.
a. For instance, Sembcorp, a key power generation company that has moved into the solar business has an in-house training academy to school its employees in new clean energy skills.
b. As more renewable energy systems are built, we will need workers who can design and maintain these systems as well as analyse their data.
c. In time to come, when Singapore deploys hydrogen and ammonia power generation technologies which are still nascent, we will need workers who can operate and maintain these power plants and support infrastructure safely.
17. For our clean energy sector to advance and grow, it is vital to have competent workers equipped with the necessary skills in this emerging technology.
18. To this end, I am happy to share that Sembcorp will be co-chairing the Green Skills Committee together with the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Announced by Minister Gan Kim Yong in February this year, the Committee will bring together industry players and training providers to jointly develop the skills and training programmes to ensure that workers are equipped with the right skills for new roles in the green economy.
19. Under the Committee, Sembcorp will also co-chair the Technical Sub-Workgroup for Energy with EMA. The Sub-Workgroup will focus on the jobs, skills and training needed to support the clean energy sub-sectors of Solar, ESS, Smart Grids and Electricity Trading.
20. The Government is committed to working closely with all stakeholders and the industry to help Singaporeans seize new career opportunities in the clean energy sector, as well as help companies attract, train, upskill, and reskill talent.
21. To build a thriving and future-ready clean energy sector, we will continue to nurture a dynamic ecosystem of innovative ideas, progressive companies and diverse talents. The Government will deepen our industry collaboration and work with the research community to push the boundaries of energy innovation to drive progress in this sector. Together, we can drive the clean sector’s continued growth and transformation.
22. I trust you will be challenged and inspired by today’s discussions and line-up of activities. I wish everyone a productive and fruitful time at Energy Innovation 2023. Thank you.