Singapore’s energy sector has come a long way since its early days. Over the last 50 years, it has moved from oil to natural gas for cleaner power generation. It has also seen more of use of solar energy, particularly on rooftops and reservoirs
However, Singapore simply does not have enough space for water catchment, residential, and business, not to mention the primary forests with thousands of indigenous species that must be maintained near the centre of the island. While it MAY be possible to hit 20% renewables by capacity, going any higher (to hit 20% energy consumption) would lead to grid problems and lower efficiency with current capacity.
It hasn’t got enough space for large solar installations, there are no major rivers for hydropower and what little breeze the tropical city-state gets isn’t sufficient to push a wind turbine.
With the limited renewable energy options available and the current technological capabilities, it is uncertain if Singapore will be able to generate sufficient baseload electricity from renewable sources reliably.
For Singapore, its plan to bring in enough clean energy from overseas to meet 30% of its needs by 2035 has already hit a snag.
In terms of the overall climate impact, it doesn’t actually matter where the fossil fuels abatement takes place. But in a world where countries and companies will be increasingly using their green credentials as a competitive tool, being a laggard could put places like Singapore at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting both capital and talent.
Small-scale nuclear is one of the few local low-carbon power options available to Singapore, although there are challenges both with the technology and the disposal of atomic waste.
Even with imports, Singapore will still fall short on decarbonizing electricity generation, and may have to pursue nuclear to move away from liquefied natural gas.
Singapore, which currently generates 95% of its electricity from imported gas, will also be adding some solar, but only enough to get it to 4% of the energy mix by 2030. The lack of local options and the major role fossil fuels refining and trading plays in its economy may be one reason why the country has yet to set a net-zero carbon target.
Nuclear will probably not be a popular/acceptable source with the citizens of Singapore, unless the Government forces it on them. Proximity to too dense a population, with no easy escape.
Written and collated by Arnav Salian