Last week, I attended the 10th instalment of Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) - arguably one of the biggest events on Singapore's energy calendar. The event itself consists of a number of sub-events and conferences, all of which add up to a week of insights into energy and fabulous networking opportunities.
The overall theme this year was "Rethinking Energy; Navigating Change". This was borne out through a focus on alternative and renewable energies and highlighting the energy transition that is currently taking place. Globally, and here in Singapore, rapid change is occurring as a result of business cases and economics shifting the paradigm on energy supply. As climate change action increases globally, expect to see more change in the energy space and the pace of energy transition to pick up. The parallel conference from the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore - the Asia Clean Energy Summit - was well attended and presented a very positive outlook for the future of renewable energy both in Singapore and across the region.
Another theme across the conference was disruptive technology and how this may change energy markets and the energy industry in the future. Batteries, blockchains, microgrids and digitalisation were all high on the agenda and provided significant food for thought for delegates. Singapore, with it's clear focus on technology and becoming a smart city, is well placed to take advantage of disruptive technologies in coming years.
In Singapore, hard targets on renewable energy penetration were announced. During the Singapore Energy Lecture, the Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Mr Teo Chee Hean, announced a target of 2 GW (peak) of solar PV installation by 2025. This is actually a challenging target given Singapore's lack of open space and the fact that current installed capacity is just under 150 MW of solar PV. Novel technologies such as vertical solar PV on building facades and floating solar on reservoirs and near shore locations will no doubt have to be employed in time. Floating solar itself was the subject of the inaugural International Floating Solar Symposium, part of the Asia Clean Energy Summit. Of great interest in the renewable energy space were some charts presented by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, including one that shows the tipping point at which new build solar PV becomes more cost effective that existing coal fired power. See the energyCC blog post on the Asia Clean Energy Summit for more on this.
The forthcoming carbon tax in Singapore was also discussed in the Singapore Energy Lecture, though not in detail, and in a separate session devoted to carbon pricing entitled "Making Sense of Cents"; presented by the Energy Association of Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Power and Gas. This session featured input from a number of highly regarded voices on carbon pricing, including the World Energy Council, the Global Electricity Initiative, the World Bank, ABB, NUS and Frontier Economics. Some of the key takeaways from this session were that a carbon price in and of itself certainly isn't a silver bullet. It is useful in assigning a value to an externality but must be considered in line with complementary policies. Some of the insights from Frontier Economics were also quite useful - given the fact that Australia has seen possibly every permutation of emissions reduction policy.
Traditional energy sources were not forgotten with the concurrent Gas Asia Summit and the Asian Downstream Summit. Singapore has set an ambitious target to develop the country into the main LNG trading hub in the region and increase the capacity of the LNG terminal to 11 Mt/a. During the Singapore Energy Lecture, the idea of setting Singapore up as a spot market pricing hub was discussed; as was the concept of Singapore providing LNG bunkering and maybe even supply for small scale projects in the region. This could have implications for some of the longer term contracts across the SE Asia and East Asian regions, if more spot market LNG becomes available.
The conference overall was overwhelmingly positive and the outlook for energy in Singapore and through the region is bright. There are obviously some challenges ahead as the energy transition continues and global climate change action is increased in coming years but Singapore seems well placed to navigate the changes ahead.