Singapore has successfully transitioned from an oil-based economy to one based on natural gas over the past 20 years and has plans to transition to renewable energy over the next 30-40 years. By 2050 it aims to be generating 43% of its electricity needs from renewable energy, principally solar, to meet its Paris Agreement obligations to halve its emissions that year from a predicted 2030 peak and move to carbon neutral as soon as possible thereafter.
Natural gas today makes up 96% of its electricity generation needs, almost all imported via pipeline from Malaysia and Indonesia or imported as LNG. It has firm plans to further develop its role as a LNG trading hub, building on its current global status as a regional centre for oil and gas, and is stepping up research in renewables to meet its long-term targets. Solar is about the only option for the country with limited or no potential for wind, geothermal or tidal renewable options.
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 its small size and intermittency of sunshine. Authorities are also exploring other alternative energy sources, including hydrogen.
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said in 2019 that Singapore ‘will continue to rely on natural gas for the next 50 years for a substantial part’ of its energy needs.
While Singapore has not disclosed the amount of its investments into renewable energy, in the 2020 budget the government said it is committing close to SGD1 billion for research in urban solutions and sustainability, including renewable energy and carbon capture solutions.
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. It was expected to start a two-year trial importing 100 MW of electricity from Malaysia beginning early 2022.
In transport, Singapore aims to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 in favour of electric vehicles.
A feasibility study on nuclear energy conducted 2010-2012 concluded that it is not yet suitable for deployment in Singapore.