A major part of the effort in mitigating climate change lies in the switch from fossil fuels to renewable sources. In Singapore, renewable power may soon make up a bigger slice of the energy mix – by increasing the cap for power generation from solar sources and a simpler registration process, amongst other measures. Another valuable resource of renewable energy could lie in the fruit of a newly developed hybrid plant – dubbed the X Fruit. This fruit could potentially yield 30 times more oil per acre grown than palm oil. Read more
Plan to boost solar power without destabilising grid
By Feng Zengkun and Grace Chua in Straits Times (29 October 2013):
Solar power may be environmentally friendlier than energy derived from coal or gas, but its unreliability could lead to blackouts and power disruptions.
This is why as Singapore ramps up its use of solar panels, the Government is taking steps to ensure that solar power will not risk destabilising the national power grid even if it contributes more electricity to it.
On the first day of the Singapore International Energy Week yesterday, it announced various measures to promote the use of intermittent energy sources, such as almost doubling the cap for power generation here from such sources.
These sources cannot be controlled at will since the amount of energy generation depends on factors such as the weather.
In Singapore, the only intermittent energy source connected to the national grid is solar power.
Opening the week’s Singapore Energy Summit, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office S.Iswaran launched a consultation paper to seek views on proposed changes to the rules governing such sources here.
Among the proposed changes: a simpler registration process for people with small intermittent energy generators such as solar panels.
The Energy Market Authority (EMA) is also considering allowing intermittent energy sources to supply more power to the grid.
Currently, they can supply no more than 350MW, which is about 5per cent of last year’s peak electricity demand. Solar panels installed here as of June this year can generate at most about 12MW.
The cap lessens the impact on the grid in case, say, sudden cloud cover causes solar panel output to drop quickly. Reserve power from traditional sources is therefore needed to ensure stability.
However, the EMA noted that the cap may restrict the installation of intermittent energy sources in future.
It proposed an alternative and flexible system.
“But as a first step, the cap will be raised to 600 (MW), in view of our current reserves,” said Mr Iswaran.
The EMA also plans to allow large consumers to voluntarily cut their electricity demand for short periods in response to high prices during peak usage to help lower their energy costs and reap other benefits.
The change is expected in 2015.
Mr Iswaran, who is also Second Minister for Trade and Industry, also announced plans to test a futures market for electricity early next year.
If the trial is successful, a futures market will be set up in the second half of the year.
Six power generation companies – Keppel Merlimau, Sembcorp, Senoko Energy, Tuas Power Generation, Tuaspring and YTL PowerSeraya – had already signed on to work with the Singapore Exchange to develop a futures market, Mr Iswaran said.
But the futures market will be carefully structured, he added. “We do not want it to become the object of speculative activity and we’re quite clear about that.”
X Fruit: New low carbon biofuel can produce 30 times more oil than palm oil
By Candice Neo for Ana Shell Media (8 November 2013):
A newly developed hybrid plant has the potential to take the world by storm as a clean source of energy with zero emissions– and it can produce up to 33,000 liters of oil, 30 times the yield from palm oil.
With pollution from burning fossil fuels causing major concerns globally, many environmental activists have been advocating the use of cleaner fuels, whether it’s LNG, solar energy or biofuels. Some have immersed themselves in research in hopes of discovering a replacement for fossil fuels.
Dato’ Sri Tan Hoe Beng is one such environmentalist. Based in Kuantan, Pahang in Malaysia, he managed to develop a hybrid biofuel plant that can produce up to 30 times more oil per acre than palm oil. Unlike palm oil, of which five percent is mixed with 95 percent fossil fuel before it can be used, this plant, which he named the X Fruit, does not need to be blended with fossil fuels, and can be used all by itself.
Launched at the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW), a video at the X Fruit exhibition booth showed the nut at the heart of the fruit being burnt for several minutes.
“You can even use it for barbeque, for everyday use,” says Dato’ Sri Tan.
Not only does the X Fruit have aromatic qualities that make it suitable for the production of essential oils for skin care and cosmetics, but it is also edible, with high levels of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
But most importantly, the oil produced can be used as a fuel for transport.
“I hope this can create a solution to climate change and the energy crisis we are facing now,” says Dato’ Sri Tan, who has worked on this fruit for nearly a decade.
He went on to explain how he was greatly motivated by the need to develop a clean source of fuel. “Climate change is something that affects all of us,” he says. “And I hope this is something that can have a global impact, [and] actually significantly reduce carbon emissions.”
To confirm the qualities of the fruit, Dato’ Sri brought it to Singapore for testing. An analysis of the X Fruit carried out by Dr. Vitali Lipik at the Nanyang Technological University showed that it contains proteins, hydrocarbons, aromatic and poly-aromatic compounds, and does not contain inorganic components and phosphorus, which makes it ideal to be used as a fuel.
Its 60 percent oil content (palm oil has 20 percent oil content) is also thought to be higher than any other oil bearing fruit or nut. The yield of this fruit is also 10 times that of the fruit of oil palms, at 50 metric tonnes of fruit per year.
The fruit is also found to have a very high calorific value, more than 30 megajoules per kilogram, which is higher than the best coal in the world, according to Dato’ Sri Tan.
He is getting more tests done by a university research center in China as well as a leading energy researcher based in Singapore, Dr. Jeff Obbard.
Throughout his 10 years of working on the fruit, Dato’ Sri Tan has ensured its perfection.
Initially, the tree was four stories high, which posed a practical problem for fruit collection. He then modified it such that it is now much shorter.
Growing the tree is also not much of an issue. “It can grow in land that’s not very fertile,” admits Dato’ Sri Tan. “It’s only during the sapling stage that tender care needs to be given to the plant.” He adds that he has nurseries to ensure that the plants grow in optimal conditions.
The businessman has done his best to ensure that the X Fruit is up to international environmental and sustainability standards by enlisting the help of sustainability consultant Ken Hickson of Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA). Hickson is also the author of such books as ‘The ABC of Carbon’ and ‘Race for Sustainability’.
Currently, he reveals that there are keen investors, some of whom are even governments, but he refuses to name anyone. “At this stage, nothing is confirmed yet, so we can’t announce anything officially,” he says.