Keeping S'pore's energy source options open

Singapore's energy sources have evolved over the years, and diversification has brought with it opportunities in trade, technology and even talent development. In the second of a five-part series that looks at the various aspects of energy production and distribution, Arti Mulchand speaks to industry players who are all responsible for feeding Singapore's electricity grid that powers up homes, offices, factories and streets.

In just over a decade, Singapore has managed a complete about-turn in terms of its dependence on petroleum products as feedstock, which is used to create energy.

In 2005, heavy fuel oil still made up over a fifth of the country's energy mix. Last year, that figure dropped to 12.3 per cent, with natural gas accounting for 84.3 per cent.

Natural gas is considered a cleaner fossil fuel to use for energy since it produces between 30 per cent and 70 per cent less carbon emissions than either oil or coal.

But what has made Singapore's energy future even more secure is the opening in May of the 40ha Singapore liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Jurong Island, points out Energy Market Authority assistant chief executive Kwok Foo Seng.

It allows Singapore to import natural gas from anywhere in the world, instead of depending on piped natural gas from Malaysia and Indonesia.

"When you talk about the right energy mix, you need to look at both having natural gas and having enough supplies of it. We now have extra sources, and that helps a lot in terms of energy security," said Mr Kwok, drawing reference to the 1973 and 1979 oil crises sparked by the Arab nations, when prices spiked.

Already, expansion is on the cards both for the LNG terminal and LNG sources.

The city-state also aims to become Asia's LNG trading hub.

The continent is now the fastest-growing gas market worldwide and is expected to become the second largest by 2015, says the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Singapore is also looking closely at further diversification of its energy sources, including the potential of renewable resources such as solar energy and biomass.

Speaking at last month's Singapore International Energy Week, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry S. Iswaran cited the IEA's estimate that renewable energy is currently the fastest growing sector of the global energy mix.

"We have some of the best strategies and initiatives in order to diversify Singapore's energy mix, foster competition in our energy markets and help consumers make more informed choices about their energy use and one key strategy is to diversify our energy sources," Mr Iswaran said.


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