Greening Singapore

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Singapore’s ‘Energy reset’ will use cleaner energy and increased energy efficiency to lower its carbon footprint.

Singapore as a low-lying state feels particularly vulnerable to climate change, with the weather found to be getting warmer, the rainstorms heavier and the dry spells more pronounced.

The island state claims a longstanding commitment to sustainable development and to be one of the greenest cities in the world, with about a third covered by trees.

Now in a bid to strengthen its efforts to meet the Paris Agreement the government has initiated an ambitious ten-year plan, the Singapore Green Plan 2030, to drive towards net zero emissions in an initiative that will “touch on almost every dimension of [residents’] lives”.

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“Building a green Singapore will require a whole-of-society effort, and I hope that we can harness the ideas and energies of the public, private, and people sectors,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at its launch in February.

The plan is intended as a whole-of-nation movement to advance Singapore’s national agenda on sustainable development and position the state to achieve its net zero aspirations “as soon as viable”.

Elements include a further greening of Singapore, with the setting aside of 50% more land for nature parks and every household living within a 10 minute walk of a park, reductions in water consumption with inter alia smart meters and in the level of waste sent to landfill, and the putting in place of physical defences to protect the coastlines against sea level rise.

Another is to entrench a green economy as a carbon trading and services hub, including green finance, sustainability consultancy and verification and credits trading.

Energy Reset

But for the Singapore government, cleaner and better use of energy is core to any plan to tackle climate change, according to the project overview.

Geographical constraints limit the options for renewable energy, in particular the absence of land or sea space for large solar or wind farms. Thus the nation, which has shifted to using natural gas and plans further efficiency improvements to the gas-fired power plants, is looking to rooftop solar, planning to increase the level five times to at least 2GW peak by 2030 – sufficient to power approximately 350,000 households a year.

It also is intended to tap green energy resources from elsewhere in the region.

Floating solar panels on reservoirs should enable all the local waterworks to be powered by solar energy and the waste treatment facilities also should become energy positive.

Electric vehicles also are high on the agenda, with all new public buses already hybrid or electric. The latest targets require new registrations of diesel cars and taxis to cease from 2025 and all new car and taxi registrations to be cleaner energy models from 2030.

At that time 60,000 charging points are targeted, two-thirds in public locations and one-third in private premises.

Other targets include more widespread use of smart LED lights and the widespread development of low energy buildings, with 80% improvement in energy efficiency over the 2005 baseline by 2030.

All of these actions are calculated to be able to reduce Singapore’s energy consumption by more than 8 million MWh per year, with a corresponding reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by at least 3Mt per year by 2030.

Steps towards 2030

As an example of a demonstration the government cites the Jurong Lake District under development in the west of Singapore, which is intended as a model sustainable mixed-use district, with district cooling, solar power deployment and super low energy buildings.

Another is the nearby new Housing & Development Board (HDB) town of Tengah, which is slated as the nation’s “first smart and sustainable town, with green features and smart technologies”.

HDP is partnering with SP Group to study the potential of developing Tengah into a Smart Energy Town, by tapping artificial intelligence. SP Group will develop a software system to optimise energy use and promote energy conservation across the town, and an app for residents to more accurately monitor their energy usage.

Homes will be smart enabled coming equipped with smart switched socket outlets and a smart distribution board.

Smart lighting also will be utilised within the town to manage the lighting levels based on human traffic levels.

These are long term developments – for example, Jurong Lake District will take to at least 2040 or beyond to fully realise – but they illustrate the potential of the technologies that are set to become increasingly pervasive as more and more governments set there eyes on the net zero goal.