ST’s Earth Day panel dialogue: Can S’pore become a regional hydrogen hub amid the energy disaster?

SINGAPORE – In disaster lies alternative, and this may be seen in the alternatives that might open up as Singapore makes an attempt to wean itself off fossil fuels amid an energy disaster.

The alternatives lie not solely in the renewable energy sector, but additionally in areas resembling inexperienced finance, carbon providers and inexperienced hydrogen, stated panellists at a dialogue organised by The Straits Times that aired on Earth Day on Friday (April 22).

One of the panellists, Dr Victor Nian, an adviser at the Centre for Strategic Energy and Resources, stated there may be potential for Singapore to place itself as a hydrogen hub in the future, and provide the cleaner gas to the area.

For occasion, oil refineries and petrochemical vegetation in Singapore might, in the future, be repurposed to provide and retailer inexperienced hydrogen, which refers to hydrogen gas produced by renewables.

“Think back to the 1960s, where our philosophy of having refineries on Bukom Island or Jurong Island in serving the neighbourhood could be replicated in the hydrogen story, where we, as a country can become a hub for hydrogen production from clean energy sources, and sell them to the region,” he stated.

Green hydrogen, which is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen through the use of renewable electrical energy, emits no carbon dioxide throughout the manufacturing course of, making it a cleaner gas.

The different panellists had been ST local weather change editor David Fogarty; Ms Swati Mandloi, a youth delegate from Singapore for the current United Nations local weather change convention in Glasgow, COP26; and ST surroundings correspondent Audrey Tan.

The session was moderated by Mr Warren Fernandez, ST editor and editor-in-chief of SPH Media Trust’s English, Malay and Tamil Media Group.

The dialogue – aired on ST’s YouTube channel and web site on Friday – revolved round the theme of whether or not surging energy prices would spark a world rethink about the dependence on fossil fuels, and the present challenges of rushing up the adoption of renewables.

Last yr, oil and fossil gas costs soared, inflicting electrical energy payments to spike and petrol costs to rise. The battle in Ukraine then worsened the world’s energy disaster.

Mr Fogarty stated carbon providers and buying and selling in Singapore are a rising space, since certainly one of the key points that polluting firms face is lowering their emissions in some components of their provide chains.

Hence, they flip in the direction of carbon offsets, the place the firms purchase a carbon credit score from a renewable energy plant or a forestry restoration undertaking to “offset” their emissions.

“The investment around those projects, and the financing (and auditing) of them is a growing area. Executing those projects on the ground also takes time and money.”

Mr Fogarty added that issuing inexperienced bonds – monetary devices used to fund initiatives with environmental advantages – is an rising space, and that the nation may discover novel applied sciences in extracting carbon dioxide.

“Singapore is a great hub for a lot of these things. It’s got the finance, it’s got the technology, and it can bring in the brains to do it.”

On Singapore as a hydrogen hub, Ms Tan famous that it’s at present difficult to provide inexperienced hydrogen right here as a consequence of the small proportion of the nation’s energy combine coming from renewables.

By 2030, the intention is to have photo voltaic energy – the nation’s most viable type of clear energy now – cowl 4 per cent of Singapore’s whole electrical energy demand.

The 4 per cent will comprise at the very least 2 gigawatt-peak of photo voltaic energy, or the equal of powering about 350,000 households a yr.

Currently, greater than 95 per cent of the nation’s energy combine comes from pure gasoline, the cleanest type of fossil gas.

Ms Tan stated: “By 2030, 4 per cent coming from solar is quite small. For us to harness hydrogen in a larger way, hydrogen has to be imported, and we have to find ways to store hydrogen safely.”

It was reported final yr that Singapore is participating native and worldwide stakeholders to carry down the price of hydrogen expertise and develop world regulatory requirements, to determine world hydrogen provide chains.

Dr Nian added that if nuclear energy – which Singapore is trying into – takes off right here, it might be used to provide clear hydrogen gas right here.

Audience member Jan Holm, 53, govt vice-president of Seaborg Technologies, a cleantech firm, requested the panellists the place they see the largest alternatives for Singapore shifting ahead, as the nation rides the energy disaster wave.

Dr Nian stated Singapore’s wealthy expertise pool can assist pave the means for advances in the clear energy and expertise sector – from “Generation IV” nuclear applied sciences to even new industries inside the cleantech scene.

Generation IV nuclear energy entails a system of gas fabrication vegetation and amenities that will overcome a few of the shortcomings and issues of safety with present nuclear energy vegetation.

“Advanced technologies (in the nuclear sector) are still in development. As a newcomer country, we can ramp up our research and development capabilities so that we catch up with this wave, and become one of the leading innovators in these areas,” added Dr Nian.

“I think that is where the golden opportunity lies with a country that is educated… and is open to new options. We might even be seeing new industries being established. It could be data centres, it could be hydrogen, it could be nuclear.”

Last month, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) launched its Energy 2050 Committee Report which recognized rising low-carbon sources resembling hydrogen, geothermal and nuclear energy as means to carry down the nation’s emissions to web zero by or round 2050.

Ms Tan famous that whereas the report was commissioned earlier than the surge in energy costs began, and the Ukraine-Russia battle, EMA nonetheless selected to launch the report amid the energy disaster.

“(EMA) could have chosen to release the report at a later date after prices have stabilised, but the fact that they still chose to release it when we are all suffering from energy price spikes, that seemed like a commitment… that Singapore is committed to tackling this crisis.”

Singapore’s energy sector now produces about 40 per cent of the nation’s emissions, however the sector can realistically attain web zero by 2050, the report stated.

Ms Swati hopes that the present energy and current local weather crises will permit humankind to discover alternatives for a higher future world.

She added that by means of nature-based options, for instance, people’ relationships with the pure surroundings will enhance and profit individuals, enriching their lives.

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