Hydrogen a more sustainable bet for S’pore’s energy future

The Government recently announced big steps forward in Singapore’s renewable energy future — it intends to install solar panels across all new Housing Development Board blocks, with costs of installation about 40 per cent less than before.

That is not surprising for a small, low-lying, island city-state that is extremely vulnerable to climate change.

Last year, it joined more than 120 countries to ratify the Paris Agreement, committing to tackle climate change through reducing emissions intensity by 36 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

One method Singapore policymakers have adopted to reduce the city-state’s carbon footprint is by moving away from fossil fuels as our primary energy source, and looking towards renewable energy, primarily solar.

The Republic receives an average annual solar irradiance of 1,580kW per metre squared per hour, and up to 50 per cent more solar radiation than other temperate countries.

Harnessed through photovoltaic cells, solar power is likely to be the predominant renewable energy source in Singapore’s future. There are currently more than 1,500 solar panel installations in Singapore, which generate 130 MW peak of electricity, or about 2 per cent of Singapore’s electricity needs.

But solar power is on track to meet only 5 per cent of total electricity needs by 2020. Apart from space constraints limiting the deployment of solar panels, heavy cloud cover and urban shading also pose intermittency challenges. And any power system with significant penetration of solar energy must be able to address such intermittency issues, and possess reliable backup reserves of conventional generators to prevent sudden cuts in electricity supply.

The Government has to diversify Singapore’s energy sources beyond that of solar, in order to develop energy solutions to meet our electricity needs more reliably and more quickly.

Hydrogen gas is perhaps the next avenue for Singapore’s future energy outlook,…

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