Nighttime photograph of Marina Bay Sands, Singapore skyline; Nighttime photograph of Marina Bay Sands, Singapore skyline;

Switching on Singapore: four ways to realise net zero

Every country and industry must take their own path to decarbonise their economy. While this path may be relatively straightforward for some countries with significant natural renewable energy resources, others face a more complex transition. 

Singapore falls into the latter category. Singapore’s goal is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Yet the country is a small, densely populated global aviation, maritime and financial hub. It has limited capacity for renewable resources such as solar and imports most of its energy. The Energy 2050 committee of Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) recently reported the entire energy value chain would have to undergo transformational changes to achieve the net-zero goal. However, despite these challenges, the EMA is confident Singapore’s power sector can aspire to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. 

We are examining Singapore’s energy mix and options for a net-zero emissions future. Through our work with government, investment and development organisations, here are four areas where Singapore can progress towards net zero.

Daytime photograph of Singapore city with train on platform in foreground Daytime photograph of Singapore city with train on platform in foreground

1. Modelling the future grid

Singapore relies on imported liquid natural gas (LNG) for most energy requirements. To understand how transitioning the generation fleet of assets away from gas can be achieved and its impact on the broader energy market, we have been working with the EMA to model a series of decarbonisation scenarios.

We conducted energy market modelling using specialist software PLEXOS to help find the most economical solution for energy generation for different scenarios. Our modelling covered energy generation assets, including solar, cleaner fuels such as hydrogen and importing green energy and helped identify ways Singapore can get to a net-zero future while meeting energy security and downstream price requirements.

2. Importing green energy

Large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) farms are not viable for Singapore, and rooftop and reservoir solar are only likely to contribute between five and ten per cent of usual energy usage.

One option available is importing sustainable electricity through cable interconnectors, high-voltage cables that connect the electricity systems of neighbouring countries, from overseas producers. Working with investors, we are evaluating the opportunities interconnectors can offer Singapore for sustainable long-term revenue growth. We also provide technical advice on interconnectors to provide 1.4 gigawatts of imported electricity.

While importing green electricity contributes to carbon emission reduction goals, there are also resilience and efficiency considerations. While cables transmit energy well, they are at risk of being damaged by earthquakes or shipping. Underwater repairs are complex and take time, which has significant consequences for a country’s energy security.

3. Building resilient energy systems

One way to make solar supply more resilient is with battery systems that store generated power and respond to demand quickly by sending it to the grid when solar panels stop generating.

We assessed battery storage and feasibility with the EMA and conducted deep due diligence for funders who want to buy or build solar energy across the country and region. By examining projects such as floating solar on reservoirs and in the Singapore Straits, the EMA can inform future energy policy to stimulate a battery market in the country. 

4. Considering sustainable fuels

Hydrogen is a highly discussed option for greener fuels. However, it’s not a straightforward replacement for oil or gas. Importing hydrogen takes considerable effort and energy and needs the right infrastructure. It must be converted into fuel, transported, stored, and then converted into hydrogen. Between two-thirds to four-fifths of the energy in hydrogen can be lost in this process, making hydrogen up to five times more expensive than LNG.

Working with investors and producers, we analysed over 20 international examples of hydrogen production hubs, from renewable electricity production, through storage and shipping to deconversion and end use. This work, combined with our energy modelling, enabled us to identify the support required from the government and power sector if hydrogen is to become a viable component in Singapore’s future energy mix.

Creating pathways for a net-zero future

Net zero by 2050 is a realistic, if challenging, ambition for Singapore’s power sector. Achieving this target is not just a matter for Singapore’s government; investors, developers, producers, industries, and individuals play essential roles. We aim to offer a comprehensive view of decarbonisation pathways and provide technical advice that advances their progress towards net zero through our work with these organisations. We are proud to play our part in shaping Singapore’s energy future.