Top Stories


    Dec 15, 2015

    S'pore 'on track' with green initiatives

    THE deal to steer the world away from catastrophic climate change has been struck and Singapore, with its existing suite of initiatives, is on the right track, experts here told The Straits Times.

    But there are other areas that could be looked into to make Singapore greener in the long term, they said.

    "Singapore has already phased out coal and oil in its electric power sector and is thus on track for the next 10 to 15 years with its current measures," said Armin Aberle, chief executive of the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

    But beyond 2050, Singapore needs to phase out natural gas - which now makes up 95.5 per cent of the fuel mix - and replace it with cleaner alternative energy. Professor Aberle said: "The main pillar will be solar energy, whereby a significant part of these future solar power plants could be on off-shore platforms."

    Singapore is already moving in this direction. Last month, national water agency PUB announced that it is embarking on a feasibility study to assess the possibility of installing solar panels at its reservoirs and other facilities.

    Under the Government's SolarNova programme, the Housing Board has also committed to a target of 220MW-peak of power, generated through solar panels at some 5,500 blocks.

    Singapore has pledged that its greenhouse gas emissions will peak around 2030 at the equivalent of about 65 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, even if the economy grows. It will also be greener economically, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to achieve each dollar of gross domestic product by more than a third.

    Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University, said the power generation switch from fuel oil to natural gas, as well as increasing solar energy generation, "addresses more or less the only opportunities available to Singapore".

    This, he noted, was because Singapore is a "renewable energy disadvantaged nation", with limited access to other alternative energy options such as hydroelectric, wind or geothermal power.

    Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister, had said that the country will strive to curb its emissions in other ways.

    This includes promoting greater energy efficiency in the domestic and industrial sectors; pushing for more green buildings; aiming for the petrochemical industry to continuously upgrade using the least pollutive and most efficient technologies available, as well as improving public transport.

    But more importantly, Singaporeans need to change their consumption behaviour, like using less energy, buying less and wasting less, said Melissa Low, a research associate from the NUS Energy Studies Institute. "Without a mindset shift, efforts by the Government may not yield optimal results."