Clean energy 'viable option for Singapore'

Clean energy 'viable option for Singapore'
The break-even cost of solar- and biomass-powered electricity is already lower than existing electricity tariffs, says the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore’s clean energy committee.

Renewable energy could power about 7 per cent of Singapore's electricity needs by 2025, even without government subsidies, according to a new white paper by industry experts.

This would help the Republic meet its pledge to reduce carbon emissions, improve its energy security and even boost its economy through the export of renewable energy technologies, said the authors of the paper.

Announced on Friday by the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (Seas), the document outlines the business case for solar power, and biomass and biogas as fuels, and sets out recommendations to encourage their use.

These include letting more people sell their excess renewable energy to the national power grid. Waste collection practices should also be changed and disposal fees raised to spur companies to invest in waste-to-energy conversion equipment, it said.

The association's clean energy committee spent eight months consulting some 60 companies and organisations for the paper.

These included the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, power generation companies and renewable energy firms. The paper will be published online and shared with the Energy Market Authority (EMA).

Seas chairman Edwin Khew hoped the findings will "kill the myth of renewable energy being expensive and not a viable option in Singapore".

In fact, the committee estimated that the break-even cost of solar- and biomass-powered electricity - how much electricity has to be sold to at least match installation costs - is already lower than existing electricity tariffs.

Several of the white paper's topics dovetailed with the EMA's own consultation paper launched last month, which seeks views on maximising deployment of intermittent power generation sources such as solar power.

Mr Christophe Inglin, chairman of the clean energy committee and managing director of solar energy firm Phoenix Solar, said the parallel efforts signalled the authorities' recognition that regulations on renewable energy may need to be changed.

The EMA has already allowed intermittent energy sources to supply more power to the grid. This is now capped to lessen the impact on the grid in case, say, sudden cloud cover causes solar panel output to drop quickly.

Reserve power from traditional sources is therefore needed to ensure stability.

Last month, the EMA raised the cap from 350MW - about 5 per cent of last year's peak electricity demand - to 600MW. It is also studying a more flexible system.

In 2010, a high-level government committee set up to chart Singapore's economic future said renewable energy could supply 5 per cent of the country's peak electricity demand by 2020.

zengkun@sph.com.sg


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