The Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) kicked off yesterday and headlining the event were an array of impressive ASEAN and global energy leaders. The hybrid live and virtual event featured panels and speeches which concentrated on current grid challenges but also highlighted how the energy sector can ‘reset, restructure and reinvent’ for a more sustainable future.
First held in 2008, SIEW by Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) is a yearly event for energy experts and a platform to share best practices and solutions within the global energy space.
The keynote speeches were well-attended, during which a trio of themes emerged as the first couple of hours unfolded. Throughout the speeches and commentary, the region’s energy transition, the adoption of sustainable energy practices, and most notably, the creation of an expansive ASEAN power grid had the most airtime.
Imagined more than 20 years ago, the ASEAN power grid re-emerged as one of the central topics covered throughout the day and during the SIEW opening keynote speech by Gan Kim Young, Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore. To take this construct to a reality, Minister Young said the Lao PDR, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS PIP) is a significant milestone for developing the ASEAN power grid. The LTMS PIP will link the countries for an unprecedented cross-border power trade of 100 megawatts (MW).
Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project a likely first step
Importing power was a main focus of the opening day of SIEW. During his keynote, Minister Young emphasised the necessity of RE projects and took a strong stance on addressing climate change, and declared that delaying the energy transition is not an option. “The fate of our planet does not permit it,” he said.
To address limitations in creating renewable energy (RE), Singapore plans to import four gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2035, or approximately 30% of its total supply of RE. Still, hydrogen will continue to have a place in Singapore’s energy mix because “we cannot generate enough power to keep the lights on with renewables alone,” Minister Young highlighted.
To meet the Paris Agreement, hydrogen will become a central player for Singapore to meet the Agreement as will carbon capture. To reach emission targets in 2050, roughly S$55 million has been granted by the Singaporean government to fund 12 research, development, and demonstration projects focusing on hydrogen applications and low-carbon energy technology solutions, like carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) capabilities.
According to a UN report, carbon capture will be needed to offset the direct building CO2 emissions, which account for 38% of global emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has announced that these emissions must decrease by 50% by 2030 to be on track for net-zero carbon building stock by 2050.
Mary Warlick, the Deputy Executive Director of the IEA, said that yes, ASEAN has made headway in long-term goals for carbon neutrality, but decarbonisation is a long game and will continue to evolve in the region.
“It (decarbonisation) needs to be a sprint if we want to get to where many countries need to be by 2050 in terms of decarbonisation goals,” she explained.
Regarding the LTMS PIP power trade project, Warlick said the IEA is pleased to see things moving forward next year for this historic agreement. Anticipating the future, she believes these types of collaborations will be the cornerstone of success in some regions, especially ASEAN.
Echoing the theme of the day, Jimmy Khoo, the CEO of SP PowerGrid said that it all comes down to balancing the ASEAN interconnecting and consumer expectations.
“Going forward with the interconnectors will take even more collaboration with the government because we need to ensure the reliability and not a great expense to the consumer,” he shared.
With Singapore recently joining the LTMS PIP power trade project and more collaborations on the horizon, the fully interconnected ASEAN power grid of tomorrow appears to be on its way to a reality of today.