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Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the 11th Singapore International Energy Week 2018

Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the 11th Singapore International Energy Week 2018


Your Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. A very good morning to all of you and a warm welcome to the 11th edition of the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW). This morning, we are all gathered here to solve a simple puzzle together. A simple puzzle that has three dimensions and that many professionals in the industry have been trying to figure out. How do we reconcile the demand, for something that is affordable, reliable and sustainable? Conventional wisdom says that this is a “trilemma”- you can have at best two, but not all three. Today, we are all gathered here because we believe that the new generation of technologies and business models will present opportunities for us to overcome, or at least, to substantially reduce the “trilemma”.

2. The energy landscape today is undergoing significant shifts in the production, management and consumption of energy. If we look at energy production globally, the share of renewables in the overall energy mix is increasing due to advances in clean energy technologies and lower costs of deployment. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), global renewable capacity reached 2,179 Gigawatt (GW) in 2017, representing a 167 GW or 8.3% year on year growth over 2016.

3. Beyond production, countries need better tools to manage energy- to smoothen the peak and troughs in demand, and to better balance their load especially within a 24-hour cycle. New technologies such as data-enabled systems, and energy storage solutions will play an increasingly important role in fulfilling this need.

4. Reducing energy consumption is another area that deserves our attention- how we roll out smart policies and innovative building designs and how we use new construction materials that consume less energy are important challenges and opportunities for all of us. These developments present new and exciting opportunities for Singapore. We will step up efforts to invest in new energy production, integrate the way we manage energy, and innovate the way we consume energy, to create a more resilient energy future for all of us.

Invest in Production

5. Firstly, let me talk about production. To produce sufficient energy for our needs, we must invest early in our energy infrastructure. There must be enough capacity to meet demand, plus some buffer. As more consumers start to demand clean energy, we should also continue to encourage the use of cleaner sources of energy.

6. While renewables are cleaner, solar and wind power can also be intermittent in supply- hence the “trilemma” which we talked about earlier- affordability, sustainability and reliability. Harnessing renewables is not an easy feat, but it can be made easier with continued international cooperation. Yesterday, at the 36th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM), the ASEAN ministers pledged to further enhance energy cooperation among Member States.

7. I am very encouraged that ASEAN has also agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). This MOU signals our collective commitment to work with international partners and scale up renewable energy deployment in the region.

8. Today, Singapore relies on imported fuels for the majority of our energy needs. Most of our electricity comes from the burning of natural gas. We face our own unique challenges in deploying renewable energy sources. For example, we do not have hydro or geothermal energy potential, and we have limited land to deploy solar panels. Nonetheless, our own solar capacity has almost quadrupled in the last four years, from 33 Megawatt-peak (MWp) in 2014 to around 162 MWp today.

9. Just like how Singapore has successfully diversified our supply of water over the years, our next ambitious goal is to enhance our energy resilience to ensure that we are never dependent on any single source of supply. To achieve this, we will need to continually diversify our sources of supply and innovatively maximise our land and space to produce more renewable energy.

10. One such innovation is JTC Corporation (JTC)’s Solarland programme, which aims to maximise the use of vacant land by installing solar panels on an interim basis. JTC has also launched the SolarRoof model, which allows solar power generated from the rooftops of JTC’s industrial buildings to be fully exported to the power grid. I am pleased to announce that the SolarLand and SolarRoof programmes together will achieve 100 mega-watt peak (MWp) of installed solar capacity by 2030.

11. Today we are also piloting the deployment of floating solar panels on water reservoirs. With advances in technology, we also hope to be able to use vertical building surfaces to harvest solar energy. To unlock the potential of renewables to meet our energy objectives, we must continue to invest steadily in R&D and infrastructure, and build up capacity ahead of time. This will contribute towards our goal of achieving 1 Gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar capacity beyond 2020.

Better Energy Management through Integration

12. Secondly, let me talk about better energy management through integration. We need to explore solutions to better integrate renewables into the grid and manage energy demand and supply intelligently, to ensure a reliable energy supply to consumers. With the emergence of new technologies such as energy storage and smart energy management systems, there are exciting new opportunities for our countries and companies to better optimise available capacity.

13. Energy storage is a game-changing technology that has the unique ability to store energy for later use. This can help to balance the peak and off-peak demand, so less infrastructure is needed to cater for peak demand.

14. Energy storage systems, or ESS, can also help to manage intermittency from renewables, and enhance the stability of our electricity grid. We see ESS as a key technology that will enhance our energy resilience, enable higher levels of solar power adoption, and to provide significant benefits to Singapore and Singaporeans.

15. As such, Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) is publishing an ESS policy paper to provide guidance on how ESS can be deployed in Singapore and clarity on its regulatory treatment. This paper will be continuously updated as new ESS business models and technologies emerge, to ensure that Singapore’s regulations remain up to date.

16. EMA is also launching the ACCelerating Storage for Singapore programme, or ACCESS, to facilitate adoption of ESS in Singapore. EMA will work with ACCESS partners to pilot use cases, design business models, and facilitate regulatory and market approvals for ESS deployment. The ACCESS programme will kick off with two partners- PSA Corporation Limited and Sembcorp Industries.

17. Beyond ESS, we will need to catalyse R&D innovation in the distribution and consumption of energy to better manage our energy supply and demand.

18. Singapore is an excellent location to serve as a test-bed for new technologies and energy solutions in the region and beyond. One of our key advantages is that we are in the “Goldilocks position” - not too big, so that we can move fast, and not too small, so that we can scale up solutions tested here to other global cities. We are also prepared to test out new rules and regulations to enable innovations to take place. And we welcome partners from all over the world, to work with us on such innovations in technology, policy and regulations.

19. We hope to attract many more industry partners and researchers to come to Singapore, to partner with Singapore companies, and work with our people to develop new ideas that can become scalable and applicable to the rest of the world. To this end, the rapid urbanisation of many cities across the world, will present many opportunities for us to test-bed many of these new technologies- more sustainable and more affordable technologies.

20. In that light, I am pleased to announce two collaborations, which will build on our efforts to develop Singapore into a “living lab”. The first collaboration, Exploiting Distributed Generation (EDGE), is a S$20 million programme by EMA and the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) that will study urban micro-grids and distributed generation technologies.

21. The second collaboration is the renewal of the Sembcorp-EMA Partnership on R&D and manpower development. This collaboration, which started in 2014, will be renewed with a fresh injection of S$10 million. This partnership will spur the development and translation of energy R&D into solutions that address Singapore’s energy challenges, and build new capabilities in our energy sector.

22. To ensure that our R&D leads to commercially-viable solutions, I am happy to share that two tech consortia comprising businesses and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) will be launched under the Energy Grid 2.0 R&D programme. These are the Smart Grid and Power Electronics Consortium Singapore, hosted by the Nanyang Technological University, and the Cooling Energy Science & Technology Singapore, hosted by the National University of Singapore. These consortia will enable companies and public researchers to collaborate on joint R&D and test-bedding activities. They will also build up Singapore’s capability to integrate different energy-related technologies into deployable system solutions that can be exported.

Innovation in Energy Consumption

23. Now let me touch on innovation in our energy consumption. We need to be much more efficient in the way we consume energy. Energy is a precious resource and we must constantly optimise the way we use it. In this regard, Singapore’s main strategy is to focus on energy efficiency, through design, urban planning and the use of advanced materials.

24. In particular, our industrial sector consumes a significant amount of energy. Hence, we are rolling out an enhanced set of Industry Energy Efficiency grant schemes to give a stronger push for industrial facilities, including those of small and medium-sized enterprises, to be more energy efficient. I am also pleased to announce that we will be introducing a new Genco Energy Efficiency Grant Call to co-fund and incentivise greater efficiency in power generation. Deserving projects will be supported by up to 50% of the qualifying costs. The grants companies receive would correspond to the abatement achieved, and projects that achieve significant abatement may be eligible for more support. More details will be shared later today by EMA, the Singapore Economic Development Board and the National Environment Agency.

25. In an increasingly carbon-constrained future, improving energy efficiency will do more than just help companies reduce their costs of production. More importantly, this can open up new competitive advantages and business opportunities, both locally and internationally. Our companies will also stand to benefit from a smaller base of carbon emissions and hence lower carbon tax liability.

26. At a broader level, we can also look at the use of materials and design to reduce energy consumption. For example, can we design industrial complexes in such a way that they can leverage each other’s waste heat? How about the type of building materials used? There are many interesting ideas available in the market. With increased collaboration between businesses, academia as well as international dialogue partners, we can test-bed many of these solutions here and share the learning points with our ASEAN partners, and even to cities beyond.

Skills needed for Production, Management and Consumption

27. All of these ideas and innovations can only succeed if we have a pool of manpower equipped with the necessary skillsets and know-how to implement them on the ground.

28. Therefore, it is important that we clearly articulate the skillsets, and progression opportunities to our existing and potential energy professionals. With that in mind, EMA has partnered SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore to develop the Skills Framework for Energy and Power (SFwEP). This framework maps out both the current and emerging skillsets across more than 120 job roles, so that our workforce can continuously stay relevant and competitive. It is a timely initiative that will prepare us to seize upcoming opportunities in a rapidly evolving energy landscape.


29. As the energy sector undergoes transformation, all of us – consumers, companies and countries – stand to gain from the deployment of new technologies.

30. With better production, management and consumption of energy, we can ensure a high quality of life and vibrant economy for our people through greater access to cleaner, more affordable and more reliable energy. There are limitless opportunities for businesses, researchers, government, and the international community to work together to innovate, to develop new technologies and new business models. In Singapore, overcoming the energy challenge will be our next big audacious goal for the next 50 years. If the last 50 years, has been about how we overcome our water scarcity, the next 50 years will be about how we overcome our energy challenges. How we can together, find solutions to ensure that we overcome that “trilemma” of making our energy supply affordable, sustainable and reliable.  

31. I welcome all of you here to work with us and use SIEW as the platform to invest, innovate and integrate new energy solutions for our common future. Thank you.

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