Roadmaps address energy & climate change challenges

Roadmaps address energy & climate change challenges

The Singapore Government will pump in S$100 million to fund two initiatives in energy research and development (R&D), specifically in building energy efficiency and research on green data centres. This was announced at the first Energy Technology Roadmap Symposium, where five road maps were revealed, covering solar panel research, carbon capture and storage or utilisation, green data centres, building energy efficiency and industry energy efficiency. Read More

Channel News Asia Report (30 July 2014):

The Government will pump in S$100 million to fund two initiatives in energy research and development (R&D), specifically in building energy efficiency and research on green data centres, announced the Energy Research Development and Demonstration Executive Committee.

Ms Yong Ying-I, the committee’s co-chairperson, said the first initiative, the Building Energy Efficiency Research Development and Demonstration Hub, will be implemented and managed by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

The second, the Green Data Centre Research Hub Programme, will be managed by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), she added.

The announcements were made at the first Energy Technology Roadmap Symposium, where five national energy technology road maps were revealed. They are in the areas of solar panel research, carbon capture and storage or utilisation, green data centre, building energy efficiency and industry energy efficiency.

One of the five roadmaps concerns carbon emissions. The authorities are studying the possibility of capturing the emissions from Singapore’s power plants, refineries and petrochemical industries instead of releasing them into the air.

Carbon dioxide from these emissions can then be separated and stored thousands of metres underground. Experts said the carbon dioxide can also be used to make products like formic acid and urea.

“It can provide an interesting revenue stream, for instance in oil recovery,” said Ms Cecilia Tam from the International Energy Agency. “In countries like Singapore where you don’t have suitable storage sites, it is a good opportunity to demonstrate and develop these technologies, but there is a question of scale that will need to be addressed in the longer term.”

Apart from carbon capture, storage and utilisation, other energy technology roadmaps include research into solar panels, industry energy efficiency, and building energy efficiency.

Experts estimate about 80 per cent of existing buildings in countries which are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will still be around in 2050.

Closer to home, buildings make up about a third of Singapore’s total energy consumption. In both OECD countries and in Singapore, experts said there is an urgent need to either retrofit buildings with energy-efficient features or build greener buildings.

The pursuit of green technology for data centres also received a boost. Singapore currently hosts more than half of South-east Asia’s data centre capacity. “We should be able to design data centres to work more efficiently in tropical climates such as Singapore, where there is high temperature and high humidity – and this is quite different from data centre research done in sub-tropic areas,” said Dr Yeah Lean Weng, Director of the National Research Foundation’s Energy and Environment Research Directorate.

Organisers said two more technology roadmaps involving e-mobility and solid waste management are also in the works.


Singapore unveils national technology roadmaps to address energy and climate change challenges

Summary of Key Findings from the Energy Technology Roadmaps

Solar Photovoltaic

There is room for Singapore to grow our solar energy industry and step up efforts to maximise solar deployment, notwithstanding the limited land for large scale deployment of renewables. Solar energy is advantageous to Singapore as it produces no carbon emissions, and enhances our energy security by reducing reliance on fuel imports. This Roadmap was commissioned to examine the potential technical and cost trajectories of solar photovoltaic (PV) up to 2050, as well as potential Research, Development, Demonstration & Deployment (RDD&D) strategies for solar energy in Singapore.

The Roadmap developed various hypothetical scenarios to estimate the amount of solar PV installations and their potential contribution to our overall electricity generation. The current estimated levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) is already cost-competitive with conventional electricity generation for some larger-scale projects, and is expected to fall even further with improvements to the efficiency and yield of solar PV.

As the amount of solar energy continues to grow, there is a need to ensure that such intermittent forms of generation are smoothly integrated into the grid, so as to ensure system security, grid stability and power quality. The Roadmap further identified other key areas where Singapore has a competitive advantage, ranging from developing solutions and products for the tropical climate to developing creative uses of space for solar PV installations.

Carbon Capture and Storage/Utilisation

Carbon capture and storage/utilisation (CCS/U) from major stationary sources is a potential technology which can help Singapore reduce carbon emissions from its power and industry sectors in the longer term future. While several technology options are possible for CCS/U, most are nascent and require further R&D.

Besides the common challenges of high energy requirements, high cost of carbon utilisation as well as potentially limited international demand for CCU products, Singapore faces unique challenges in CCS/U deployment such as our low CO2 concentration stream, lack of local storage sites and high cost of long distance transport of CO2.

Given our lack of domestic options for CCS, CCU presents greater potential for longer term CO2 mitigation in Singapore. Potential approaches for CO2 utilisation in Singapore include producing liquid fuels such as methanol, ethanol, and hydrocarbons, and mineralisation products for the construction industry. However, much work is still required to lower the cost of carbon utilisation, improve CCU process energy efficiency, as well as to find a market for CCU products.

This roadmap identified the major sources and concentrations of CO2 emissions, highlighting those with highest potential for CCS/U. It also reviewed the various possible CCS/U options, identified the challenges and opportunities and evaluated their feasibility within Singapore’s context.  

Green Data Centre

Singapore is the data centre hub of Southeast Asia. In 2012, it hosted 58% of the region’s data centre capacity. Supported by favourable factors such as socio-political stability, well-developed telecommunications infrastructure, the presence of a large number of multinational companies and government initiatives like the planned Data Centre Park, the data centre industry is expected to continue to experience strong growth. As data centres are energy-intensive facilities, there is a need for them to significantly improve energy efficiency.

The Green Data Centre Technology Roadmap examined technology trends in data centres, spanning the gamut from facility systems to IT systems, highlighting the challenges and opportunities for Singapore. The goal of the roadmap is to outline a framework upon which the research community and data centre industry can progressively assess their technology options, in tandem with Singapore’s energy efficiency initiatives to achieve sustainability objectives.

Building Energy Efficiency

Energy consumption in the building sector is trending upwards due to increasing population and higher economic activity in most parts of the world. In Singapore, buildings including households consume about 50% of the country’s electricity. It is hence essential to focus on reducing energy use in this sector via technologies that can significantly improve the energy efficiency of buildings, while ensuring liveability and long term sustainability.

This Roadmap is envisioned to help Singapore to attain our medium to long term goal of “Low Energy High-rise Buildings in the Tropics”. It outlines research and development (R&D) pathways to improving energy efficiency within the building stock via technology improvements and policy recommendations. These R&D pathways span four technological focus areas integral to raising energy efficiency in buildings. The four technological focus areas are (a) Integrated design (ID), (b) Building Envelope and Façade Systems (BEFS), (c) Building Management and Information Systems (BMIS) and (d) Air Conditioning and Mechanical Ventilation (ACMV).

Based on innovative technologies identified in each of these focus areas, the roadmap identified strategies to help meet the long term goal of “Low energy High-rise Buildings in the tropics” and improve overall building energy efficiency.

Industry Energy Efficiency

The industrial sector is an important contributor to Singapore’s economic growth and was responsible for 19% of Singapore’s gross domestic product in 2010. The sector accounts for more than half of Singapore’s energy demand, due to the presence of energy intensive export-oriented industries such as petroleum refining, chemicals, pharmaceutical and wafer fabrication. Hence, improving industry energy efficiency is important to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions while reducing total energy usage, making the economy more competitive and improving environmental sustainability.

This Roadmap identified emerging and next-generation technologies in 5 segments: (a) Petroleum, (b) Petrochemical and Chemicals, (c) Semiconductor, (d) Pharmaceutical and (e) Others. The technical and economic energy efficiency potentials of these technologies in Singapore, together with prevailing best available technologies were then estimated for the medium to long term. Technologies which offered the highest potentials for energy savings were found to be system solutions and energy efficient heating processes such as refinery and chemical plant integration, smart manufacturing/ advanced facility automation, improved catalysts, catalytic cracking of naphtha for olefin production and super-critical CO2 cycle heat recovery systems.

In order to improve the performances of industrial plants, the Roadmap recommended supporting further RDD&D programs, based on the technologies identified. A robust monitoring and evaluation framework is also required to ensure the progress of the technology from R&D to deployment.

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