Singapore – an Energy Snapshot

Singapore has successfully transitioned from an oil-based economy to one based on natural gas over the past 20 years and has plans to further transition to renewable and “lower carbon” energy over the next 30-40 years. An updated Nationally Determined Contribution released before COP27 in November 2022 confirmed Singapore’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2050 and reduce its emissions to 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030, with a peak coming earlier than that.

Natural gas today makes up 96% of Singapore’s electricity generation needs, almost all imported via pipeline from Malaysia and Indonesia or imported as LNG. Singapore has firm plans to further develop its role as an LNG trading hub, building on its current global status as a regional centre for oil and gas while it steps up research in renewables to meet its long-term targets.

Even with that research, natural gas will continue to be a dominant fuel for electricity generation in Singapore in the immediate future – something noted by the nation’s Energy Market Authority. That’s because solar is about the only renewable option for the country with limited or no potential for wind, geothermal or tidal renewable energy.

Singapore has successfully transitioned to a gas-based energy system.

The Public Utilities Board (PUB) and Economic Development Board announced plans for large-scale solar PV systems to drive solar energy adoption in Singapore. This includes the deployment of a floating solar facility with a 50MWp capacity on Tengeh reservoir, and one of the world’s largest sea-based offshore floating solar testbeds of 5MWp north of Woodlands. Authorities have also awarded a construction tender for two solar PV systems on Bedok and Lower Seletar reservoirs.

By 2030, Singapore aims to generate at least two gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar energy, equivalent to more than 10% of its total electricity demand today. By 2050 Singapore aims to supply 43% of its power needs from solar, a challenging target due to the country’s small geographic size and intermittency of sunshine.

Because of these challenges, the Singaporean government continues to seek other innovative methods to lower the emissions profile of power generation.

“Singapore’s success in transitioning to a gas-based economy over the past 20 years is a great example of what is possible. Because of the reliability of gas underpinning its electricity generation, Singapore is well-placed to be bold with its decarbonisation plans – from investing in renewables to developing emissions-free fuels of the future.”

Paul Everingham, ANGEA CEO

Singapore’s energy, in brief

  • Commitment to net zero by 2050
  • 96% of electricity from natural gas
  • Limited renewable energy potential
  • Bold future plans for hydrogen

Singapore is currently exploring the technical feasibility of trading electricity with its neighbouring countries through interconnected regional power grids to increase options and build energy security. A two-year trial importing 100 MW of electricity from Malaysia started in mid-2022, and a trial to import hydropower from Laos (via Thailand and Malaysia) has also started. Another pilot that would see solar power sent from Indonesia to Singapore is scheduled to commence in 2024.

Singapore has set a target of having an import capacity of 4GW of “low carbon electricity” by 2035, making up about 30% of its projected electricity supply.

In transport, Singapore aims to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 in favour of electric vehicles. Under the Singapore Green Plan 2030, only cleaner energy model cars and taxis will be able to be licensed as new vehicles.

A feasibility study on nuclear energy conducted 2010-2012 concluded that it is not yet suitable for deployment in Singapore.

By contrast, hydrogen increasingly looks like having a significant role to play in electricity generation in Singapore in decades ahead. The country’s 2022 Budget statements noted the growing “plausibility” of hydrogen and carbon capture as means by which the country can meet its emissions reduction targets.

Singapore’s National Hydrogen Strategy, launched in October 2022, noted the potential for hydrogen to supply half of all power needs by 2050.

ANGEA is an industry association representing LNG and natural gas producers, energy buyers, suppliers and companies in APAC. Based in Singapore, it works in partnership with governments and societies across the region to deliver reliable and secure energy solutions that achieve national economic, energy security, social and environmental objectives and meet global climate goals.

Main photo by Alexes Gerard on Unsplash