Singapore has got it right

Singapore government’s push for clean and renewable energy is an example worth emulation by other nations By Zafar Anjum
20 Nov 2009

When it comes to the application of cutting edge innovation, Singapore is usually at the forefront—a country not afraid to experiment with new ideas and latest technologies.

While the world is busy crying foul over climate change politics and carbon trading mechanisms, Singapore is pushing forth into the brave new world of alternative energy.

On 19 November, the Singapore government made several policy announcements. According to The Straits Times (20 Nov), the Singapore government is launching a smart power grid for the country. It is a pilot project launched to optimise use of electricity in the island state.

According to the newspaper, this smart grid is “a high-tech network of intelligent meters that speak to one another and allow consumers to optimise their power use.” It is a multimillion-dollar pilot project and it involves the building of an Intelligent Energy System, announced by the Energy Market Authority (EMA).

“It will employ a range of technologies to make the electricity grid smarter, and help reduce Singapore’s carbon footprint by making energy consumption more efficient,” the paper said, quoting EMA chief executive Lawrence Wong.

“The project, to be implemented mainly at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), will also include multiple sites such as the neighbouring CleanTech Park at Jalan Bahar and selected residential, commercial and industrial buildings.”

“The pilot project will also test ways to integrate other sources of power, such as solar energy, into the main grid.”

This announcement follows another government pronouncement about making Pulau Ubin, a well-known nature island in Singapore, a test-bed for clean and renewable energy.

Testing site for ‘green’ energy

According to a report, the Singapore government will develop Pulau Ubin as a test-bed for clean and renewable energy, including alternatives like solar, wind or biomass, to produce electricity for a cluster of homes and businesses there.

According to the press, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) has just called a tender for a consultancy study on this project.

“And depending on the study’s outcome, it could be followed by development of actual infrastructure to create a micro-grid system—or small scale power supply network—on the island,” the press reported.

Singapore’s Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) has already started initiatives to do research on the country’s wind power potential. The school recently awarded a tender to install a wind turbine at its campus at Yio Chu Kang. By early next year, it plans to install a two-kilowatt version of the vertical-axis turbine, which can power two rice cookers or 50 fluorescent light tubes, said The Straits Times.

Solar research hub

Not just the wind, Singapore is also going firmly after the sun. The country has just founded a S$130 million (US$93.6 million) Solar Research Institute of Singapore (Seris), which held its official opening at the National University of Singapore (NUS) yesterday (19 Nov).

“More than 70 researchers, housed at a 5,000 sq m facility, will work on projects that improve efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity, develop cheaper materials for photovoltaic cells and find ways to ramp up economies of scale,” noted another report in The Straits Times. “They will also work on how to integrate solar power into building structures.”

Singapore’s initiatives into the renewable energy sector clearly indicate that Singapore is serious about achieving economic growth in an environmentally sustainable manner, progressively reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. One just hopes that other countries too will take a green leaf out of Singapore’s book of energy independence.

Zafar Anjum is the online editor of MIS Asia dot com.

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