$100 million effort to make buildings and data centres greener

City Square Mall along Kitchener Road is Singapore's first eco-mall. It attained the Building & Construction Authority's Green Mark Platinum Award in 2007. -- PHOTO: HONG LEONG GROUP
City Square Mall along Kitchener Road is Singapore's first eco-mall. It attained the Building & Construction Authority's Green Mark Platinum Award in 2007. -- PHOTO: HONG LEONG GROUP

SINGAPORE - Singapore is putting $100 million into work that makes buildings more energy efficient, and technology and software that helps data centres use less energy. 

National Research and Development permanent secretary Ms Yong Ying-I announced these moves at the Energy Techroadmap 2014 symposium at the Suntec City convention centre on Wednesday morning. 

Roughly half of the funding will go to each research area, said Dr Yeoh Lean Weng, director of the National Research Foundation's energy and environment research directorate.

The Building and Construction Authority will administer the kitty for building energy efficiency, while the Infocomm Development Authority will govern that for green data centres.

The funding can be used for competitive research grants and facilities such as demonstration or test-bed installations, he added. 

Why these two areas? Buildings consume about 50 per cent of Singapore's electricity, Dr Yeoh explained. And Singapore is an increasingly popular site for South-East Asia's data centres: the server facilities here currently use 7 per cent of electricity consumed.

At the Energy Techroadmap symposium, Government agencies shared their findings in key areas, such as solar photovoltaic energy and building energy efficiency, picked for technology roadmaps. They outlined what the current state of technology is here, and what needs to be done by 2020, 2030, and 2050 to lower Singapore's energy use and carbon emissions which contribute to global climate change. 

For example, the roadmap for carbon capture and storage or utilisation looks at harvesting carbon dioxide emissions from power generation and other activities here, works out what the excess gas can be used for, and examines the economics of doing so.

These roadmaps are key to making sure that Singapore's emissions-reductions plans are in sync, Dr Yeoh said. For instance, one cannot push for the widespread installation of solar panels without also considering energy storage, forecasting how much sunlight will shine over the course of the day, and making sure the power grid can handle an influx of solar energy.

Singapore started developing these roadmaps three years ago as part of its Energy National Innovation Challenge, a nationwide energy-solutions exercise. Two more roadmaps, on electric vehicle adoption and solid waste management, are in the works.