Sustainability in the future of Singapore

My stay in Singapore is also an opportunity to experience different traditions. Here, a ceremony at the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple yesterday evening. Photo: Sabrina Sartori

Sustainability in the future of Singapore

Are you a PhD student wanting to travel to a conference to present your results? At the National University of Singapore (NUS) you need to win a competition!

Yesterday, at the Mechanical Engineering department at NUS, a pool of PhD students presented their work in front of an audience and four judges (professors at the department), to compete in receiving funding for their travels to conferences. Interesting concept that, reproducing the context of a conference, encourage the students to excel and really earn the opportunity to give a talk at international arenas.

In addition to my collaboration with colleagues from the National University of Singapore, these days I had the opportunity to visit some laboratories at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and learn about some other interesting initiatives on energy efficiency and energy systems.

Two flagship projects

In particular, two flagship projects with a ten years perspective cover the energy value chain from generation, transmission to end use. They are commercially driven and involve NTU, companies and institutions in the Clean Environment Technology domain, in a cost sharing basis.

The logo of NTU, as it appears in a common area for students. Photo: Sabrina Sartori

The EcoCampus initiative focus on using the grounds of NTU campus (200 hectares) along with an additional 50 hectares of the neighbour CleanTech Park as an extended laboratory on energy efficiency, with the goal of achieving 35 % reduction in energy, water and waste intensity by 2020 (today the project reached already an efficiency of 25 %).

Among other things, a new concept of mechanical ventilation developed at NTU is currently under testing, while it is expected that by 2020 solar PV installed in the campus will provide NTU with 10 MW of power.

The second project is a large scale open laboratory under construction in the Semaku island, located to the south of the main island of Singapore. It is called Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator Singapore (REIDS). It is not fully operational yet, and big players – mainly French companies – are building up to 10 microgrids for testing new concepts of energy systems.

The plan is to be the largest hybrid microgrid test and research platform in the tropics, demonstrating the integration of solar, wind, tidal, diesel, storage as well as waste-to-energy and power-to-gas technologies as other technologies and solutions suitable for deployment in Southeast Asia. For instance, a 1 km pipe will bring the carbon dioxide from an oil refinery to the island, to be converted in methane through catalysed processes.

Singapore's commitment

In the years to come Singapore will continue to base its energy on fossil fuels, but these flagship projects will support Singapore's national objectives to meet the government's COP21 commitments to significantly cut Singapore's carbon emissions per dollar of GDP by 2030.

The government plan is to introduce a carbon tax by 2020 of $5 a tonne of carbon emitted. The tax will hit mainly the large polluters in the petroleum refining, chemicals and semiconductor sectors, responsible – according to an article from The Straits Times – of 80 per cent of Singapore's total greenhouse emissions.

Singapore's government is prepared to spend billions in support of projects and enterprises which deliver emission cuts and increase energy efficiency. However, not only the government, but all Singaporeans are called to play their part for a sustainable development. Singapore designated the year 2018 as the Year of Climate Action. A large contribution to a greener environment can start from adopting habits of recycling products and conserving energy. Really, this is true everywhere, not only in Singapore.

You might also be interested in this: Energy under the sun of Singapore

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