Once a resource-constrained country, Singapore invests in sustainable and efficient technology to cater for its energy needs

Solar panels used to power walkway lights

Singapore has faced many challenges in the last two decades, most notably in the energy sector. With limited renewable energy options, the island still relies heavily on imports. Typically, according to the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCA), the average wind speed is not powerful enough to activate wind turbines, while calm seas limit tidal power generation. Not to mention that the country doesn’t have a river system with fast flowing water which makes hydroelectric power a rather impossible investment option, and nuclear plants are not safe due to the limited land area and population density.

Nevertheless, Singapore has committed to becoming a benchmark in green energy and to profit from one resource the island has abundantly: solar energy. Earlier this year, the NCCA announced that the country aims to increase solar deployment from 47MWp to 350 MWp by 2020. The goal is that renewable energy would represent 8% of all the power demand. In order to do so, the country is investing heavily in research and development, as well as in creating an attractive ecosystem for cleantechs.

One of the projects developed by the government is to install solar panels on rooftops of high-rise public buildings, as well as on water surfaces. The latter, pointed as a bold and innovative pilot program, has reached so many good results that it was recently extended to the ocean. Popularly known as ‘energy islands’, the structure will supply energy to industrial and residential areas. Yet, as the geographical limitation makes it harder for the country to expand indefinitely its solar power plants, the government has decided to invest in efficiency.

The University of Singapore is thus working on solar cells that convert more sunlight into energy, and is, to that end, is making them cheaper to be integrated into buildings. The cost of solar energy has also been reduced in the last decade, making it more competitive.

Last year, the government announced that six clean energy investments across the fields of solar, wind, microgrids and energy management will help position the country as Asia’s leading cleantech hub. Currently, more 100 than clean energy companies are part of this ecosystem and helping to attract research funds, as well as an elite team of researchers. The university has already 110 PhD students, half of whom have graduated and are working in the solar energy industry.

As the authorities have secured the funding and support for these projects, the future for clean energy in Singapore seems bright!

Singapore is the host city for the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum (SIGEF), organized by Horyou, the social network for social good. The event will be held in September 2018.

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