The Grid of Tomorrow

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Enlit Asia’s first live event in two years, Future of the Grid, kicked off last week. Singapore’s only grid-focused event concentrated purely upon impending challenges faced by ASEAN grid systems and during the event, hard-hitting questions regarding mitigating climate change emerged as a theme. The Singapore grid might be one of the most dependable globally, but it will continue to advance to satisfy the energy demands of consumers and the sector over the next 10-20 years.

As part of SIEW 2021, the conference panels and speeches set out to examine driving contributors and detractors from the grid of the future. At the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, senior energy experts converged together to discuss key themes such as government policies, corporate strategies, and next-generation technologies to drive a more sustainable energy future.

Richard Lim, the Chairman for the Energy Market Authority (EMA), addressed the need for a more sustainable Singaporean energy grid head-on during his keynote speech. To decarbonise the city-state’s power sector, he declared Singapore seeks to grow solar deployment significantly by 1.5 gigawatts (GW) peak by 2025 and deploy at least 2 GW peak by 2030, which can potentially power roughly 260,000 – 350,000 households a year.

Along with the addition of more solar and to ensure Singapore is on track to meet decarbonisation targets, EMA will also employ a 2050 energy committee to observe long-term trends affecting the energy sector and suggest approaches to prepare for a net-zero future. From the committee findings, a report on this strategy is set to be published next year, which will aid Singapore in realising an increasingly evolved grid. “We will progressively roll out a smarter grid and improve our grid architecture by developing advanced control systems and utilising digital technologies,” Richard declared.

Along with employing innovative tech solutions, EMA in partnership with the SP Group and the Science, Technology Policy & Plans Office will develop a cutting-edge digital twin for Singapore that will enhance tomorrow’s grid network planning and grid operations. This integration to Singapore’s grid will support the increase of incorporation of clean energy resources, energy security, and affordability purposes.

After a flurry of energy announcements like the digital twin, Jimmy Khoo, the Chief Executive Officer of SP PowerGrid – SP Group, said he is excited about the various updates and looks forward to observing how these new initiatives shape Singapore’s grid for the better.

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“It is very apt that this conference is entitled Future of the Grid because, for many of us in the energy industry, this is a question we are grappling with,” Jimmy acknowledged.

Currently, Jimmy stated there is no model to answer questions surrounding the right way to fortify the grid or what tomorrow will hold but conferences like Future of the Grid help to trigger the questions that need to be answered.

“I’m a real believer in tech and I think many of the challenges that we see today, the solutions lie in digital tools. Some of the answers that are needed may not be here today,” Jimmy believes.

In searching for his own answers to streamline the energy transition, Graeme York, President and CEO of Senoko Energy, asserted he has found that organisations and individuals must have the opportunity to try things and fail without penalty to find unique solutions. Because in testing things out freely, answers to grid optimisation obstacles can be uncovered. It’s an innovative time within the power sector, and in this continuously-changing environment, Graeme said that the industry is just trying to keep up but it’s also an electrifying time.

“The industry is seen as dull and boring, but it’s anything but dull and boring,” Graeme quipped while addressing the transformative period utilities find themselves experiencing to the audience’s laughter.

Looking towards the next couple of years, Singapore’s grid is bound to adapt into something different altogether from what it is today. Between Singapore joining the efforts of Thailand, Lao PDR, and Malaysia in the connecting ASEAN power grid project and more outsourced energy partnerships on the horizon, the Singapore energy grid is destined to be more than it is now and more than it was imagined to ever be when it was created.  

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